Investors might think industrial growth in the state can be a tricky subject as it is measured against a tough standard of the number of jobs created for ‘sons of the soil’.
So when the Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar told the House that he was willing to go beyond the provisions of the industrial policy of providing employment subsidy to companies, what exactly did he mean? Did he suggest he would get tough on companies which do not employ locals? The scheme that Mr Parrikar was referring to provides a subsidy of ` 6 lakh per year to micro and small scale industries and ` 12 lakh per year to medium and large scale industries for a period of five years. The objective of the scheme, as printed in the policy document, is to promote industrial growth, create a healthy environment, revive sick units and boost employment for local youth. It might be pertinent to point out that creation of job opportunities for local youth is listed as the fourth objective and not the first.
This might come as a surprise, but the 80 per cent reservation of jobs for ‘sons of the soil’ does not appear to be the main objective of the scheme which is titled as ‘Goa State Employment Subsidy Scheme for Industries 2008’. The scheme flows from the 2003 industrial policy. The title suggests that the scheme is aimed at giving a certain category of industries a salary subsidy and not creating specific job avenues for locals. The scheme lists five categories of industries and the fourth clause states that units engaging 80 per cent local manpower are also eligible along with several others listed in the remaining four clauses.
Talk about reserving 80 per cent jobs for ‘sons of the soil’ has been going around for at least two decades with very little success. Firstly, it is difficult to find a son or daughter of the soil to suit every job requirements. And even if an employee is found he or she is not willing to work for the salary on offer. Although politically attractive, in reality the scheme is impractical for the simple reason that the money is too little to influence companies in the medium and large sector where the initial investment is above ` 5 crore.
Where Mr Parrikar is spot on is in announcing that a beneficial atmosphere for investment has to be created along with proper infrastructure before the state can start imposing norms or making demands. Not a single new industry has come to the state in the last five years and that is perhaps a reaction to the several anti-industry agitations and the fact that land was hard to get due to bottlenecks and corruption in the Goa Industrial Development Corporation. This certainly needs to be set right.
If the government wishes to be in a position to impose its fiat on who can be employed by industries it has to first make sure that the workforce is qualified to take up the jobs. Next, it has to ensure that the salary aspirations are as close to that offered by industries and then bridge the gap if necessary. Lastly, the subsidy for employment generation needs to be increased to a point where the candidate begins to see the merit in private jobs as against government employment.