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Beyond Vibrant Goa

Government will have to remove impediments to get investments

The first-ever Vibrant Goa global summit, which concluded on Saturday, has made a promising beginning. The chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of Global Network Institute and chief mentor of Vibrant Goa Foundation, Jagat Shah, has said that 19 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed during the summit, which are expected to bring Rs 453 crore worth investment to the state. The MoUs have been signed with investors from the USA, Australia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar in different sectors like renewable energy, real estate, food processing, information technology (IT), biotechnology, construction, pharmaceutical and artificial intelligence. The event is likely to give a push to Goan businesses also for exports if all the enquiries worth over Rs 1,150 crore are converted into trade pacts. The three-day event saw participation of 542 international delegates while the number of national delegates was 6,500. The aim now should be to help the private sector convert the MoUs and trade agreements into real business opportunities.

The global summit, though it could have been better organised, brought up a good deal of ideas from participants who included top business heads and political leaders. Union Railways, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal suggested that the state government explore every possibility to harness and tap the tourism potential in Goa. Goa could engage with Australia and New Zealand to bring value addition to sea sport and modern sea facilities into the state and improve the infrastructure for better connectivity in remote areas. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant made the delegates aware that his government was focusing on promoting medical tourism and other tourism activities in the hinterland areas which would help in equitable distribution of tourism in the state and reduce disparity with coastal areas. The other suggestion made at the event included possibility of making Goa a leader in education and entertainment sectors, which could be turned into revenue generators to replace mining and be bigger than tourism. While suggesting various measures to propel industries into revenue generators, Goyal wanted various groups to refrain from creating hurdles in implementation of proposed projects as they stall economic growth and lead to cost escalation due to delay. Goyal’s exhortation to Goans at large that they start mass movements against groups ‘obstructing’ development projects might be radical and impractical, though it highlights the problems even projects that do not carry environment and human displacement risks are stalled owing to activists’ opposition.

Among such projects are Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mopa airport, expansion of Mormugao port and Konkan Railway. As a result of litigation many of the projects were delayed, while some others shifted elsewhere. At a time when Goans are facing acute shortage of employment opportunities, it is necessary that newer job opportunities should be created. It is essential that the state government and the organisations and groups representing various sections work together to help setting up of industries and other developmental projects that are environment-friendly, that do not displace large number of people and that and help create jobs for Goan youth who face uncertain future in absence of gainful employment. Let us hope Vibrant Goa 2019 had helped in the making of a template for bringing about the necessary modification needed for taking the state forward on the road to economic progress. The Chief Minister has promised to clear all the business proposals, especially if they are from hospitality, tourism, IT services and agro-based sectors, within 30 days from receipt of proposals. Goa needs to improve ease of doing business if it has to get investments from global and domestic sector businesses.

The state government comes up with clear cut policy to ensure that industrial proposals are not caught in red tape or in litigation by this or that group. To deal with opposition from activists and NGOs effectively, it is necessary to take local people on board and create awareness among them about the projects to be executed in their areas. The state government will have to bear in mind that proposed investments could take flight in case there was delay in execution of projects for bureaucratic or other reasons.

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