Investment Made Uneasy


Goa has to make efforts to raise its rank on ease of doing business

Andhra Pradesh has topped the list of the states and Union territories in the latest ranking released by the government of India’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade vis-à-vis ease of doing business. While Andhra Pradesh topped the list for the third time in succession, what surprised many was the 10 spots climb of Uttar Pradesh to second place, displacing Telangana to third spot. Goa has been placed at number 24 in the list of 36 participating states and UTs. Goa slipped five places from its earlier ranking. The ranking is based on the implementation of the business reform action plan 2019 by states and UTs. Unlike the previous ranking in which the states and UTs were ranked on the compliance documents uploaded by them, this time the agency sought feedback from trade associations and private consultants with regard to 187 reform points covering 45 business regulatory areas such as access to information, single-window system, labour and environment before arriving at the rankings.

As the idea behind ranking is aimed at promoting competition among states and UTs with a view to improving the business climate to attract domestic as well as foreign investments for industrial and trade development, it is absolutely necessary that states like Goa make the maximum effort to improve the climate for ease of doing business to reap the benefit. The ranking is based on the implementation of the business reform action plan 2019, so obviously Goa did not make  whole-hearted efforts to implement it. Goa has to learn from Andhra Pradesh that has been scoring over 95 per cent marks since the rankings were started. It needs to learn also from Uttar Pradesh that has climbed 10 spots. The UP authorities have attributed the success to their “Nivesh Mitra” online platform which earned the approval of the industry captains whose feedback was instrumental in judging the performance of the state.

Goa needs to pull up its socks. The state has excellent infrastructure and other parameters to promote ease of doing business. The state improved its rank from 21 in 2017 to 19 in 2018, when the last list was released. Why did it fall behind? The slippages need to be identified and corrected. The state government owes an explanation to the Goans at large why the potential investors and the businesses that have invested in the state did not find it easy to do business in the state. Was it because of lack of political decision making? Was it owing to a lack of a clear vision and strategy for promoting, sustaining and expanding investment and business operations in the state? There is a need to formulate strategies to change the perception of lack of ease of doing business and make sure that trade and industry prosper in the state, generate employment for the local youth and make the state economically prosperous. The president of Goa Small Industries Association, Damodar Kochkar, has said that the dip in ranking should serve as a wakeup call for the state authorities, who should take immediate steps to fix the wrongs that have been plaguing the industry for long to prevent the state from hitting rock bottom.

Goa has been plagued by hurdles in promoting industries for a long time, which has resulted in investors shying away from the state. The state leadership has not shown the courage to address chronic issues like opposition from different groups to new projects. The state has to address the infrastructural issues. The state government cannot ignore the fact that the state was facing a problem of unemployment which has been heightened by the coronavirus pandemic.  Goa has some disadvantages, such as non-availability of large chunks of land for large industries, compared to bigger states, but it has its advantages too, such as a natural harbour and excellent road connectivity. The power scene needs a lot of improvement. The state government has to be more proactive in getting investors to Goa in the sectors that it has identified as non-damaging to the Goan ecology. The state government must devise a multi-pronged strategy to improve ease of doing business. Investment flow to the state would depend on how much hassle-free it is to do business.