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An Untapped Goldmine

Goa must follow the model of small nations like Singapore

GOA needs to attract investments to create jobs and improve public finance. The three-day Vibrant Goa Global Expo and Summit beginning October 17 at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee indoor stadium in Taleigao is aimed at showcasing Goa’s potential and luring investors to exploit it. It will provide opportunities for Goan industries and national and international participants to exchange ideas across various sectors and tap the areas they want to channelize their investments in. The event is expected to draw a large number of participants from the state, other parts of the country as well as from at least 52 countries. The summit is designed on the lines of the Vibrant Gujarat initiative of Narendra Modi during his tenure as Gujarat chief minister. The success of such initiatives in attracting investments to Gujarat and Tamil Nadu has inspired Goa to undertake a similar initiative. Let us hope that showcasing of the potential for industrial and commercial growth in Goa generates interest in the participating entities.

Entities from the pharmaceutical, hospitality sector and IT sectors are going to be among the significant sectors from the point of view of Goa government and Goan industry. Goa has emerged as a pharmaceutical hub over the years; the industry is growing at a rate of 15 per cent per annum. The high growth registered by the pharmaceutical sector has earned it the tag of sunrise industry. There are a number of top-notch pharmaceutical firms that have their bases in the state. The pharmaceutical industry in the state has grown from strength to strength. Some estimates put its turnover at Rs 7,500 crore. It is said to account for 10 per cent of India’s pharmaceutical output. Pharmaceutical companies have established themselves as a pillar of the Goan economy. It competes with tourism in terms of turnover and it was competing with mining when it was not shut down. Vibrant Goa is expected to provide opportunities for the sector to showcase its strength and potential.

Though Goa does not have as strong roots in industry and commerce as Gujarat has, the small state needs to learn a few things from Gujarat. The biennial Vibrant Gujarat summit has come a long way since it was started in 2003 by Modi. The summit was aimed at bringing together business leaders, investors, corporations, thought leaders, policy and opinion makers in Gujarat and has been a success as it helped the state to be a lodestar for domestic investments. The momentum given by the success of previous years has continued to drive investments to Gujarat. It has to be noted that Gujarat had been innovative in wooing investments even before Modi. Former chief minister Chimanbhai Patel set the trend, which continued after Modi took over, and Gujarat was able to join Maharashtra as a top destination for investments. Of course, Gujarat and Maharashtra are big states and had the advantage of offering large areas of land to projects of industry and commerce.  Goa is a small state and does not have large areas of land to offer to large projects. The small state has to tailor its industrial and commercial ambitions to its size.

It is clear therefore that while wooing investors, Goa has to be choosy. The investment ideas have to fit into its constraints of land availability. Goa has to learn from the model of development of island nations like Singapore which have made tremendous economic progress despite the odds of low land availability. Singapore is one of the nations from where we are going to have participants in Vibrant Goa. It would be a great occasion for the Goa government and Goan industry to learn from their experience and expertise. Much like Singapore and Hong Kong – and the small nation Luxembourg in Europe – Goa has to develop a chain of enterprises in what are known as soft sectors of economy, such as banking and finance, hospitality, ecommerce and IT. Hospitality already has a gigantic presence in the state; all the government and new investments have to do together is to take the sector forward within the confines of sustainable development. Banking and finance are a goldmine in investments that Goa is still to put its pickaxe into.

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