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Investment Hurdles

Goa Investment Promotion Board fails to fulfill its objectives

The Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has expressed concerns over the ‘overburdening’ of the Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board chief executive officer Vishal Prakash with additional responsibilities. Prakash has also been given charge as head of the Startup Cell. He is also engaged in formulation of logistics policy and export policy, key policy areas of the state government which require full attention as they are at the inception stage. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who recently held a review meeting of the Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board, needs to take steps to address these concerns. Investment climate in Goa needs major improvements. Big changes are needed in institutional instruments as well as rules, regulations and procedures. No officer can do justice to their job if they are given too many responsibilities as they mean constant shift of focus from the core responsibility at the Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board to attract investments. Businesses dealing with the board have found that it is understaffed. Understaffing can only mean delay in decision making and approvals. The Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board cannot afford to function as a typical government department where sloth and interminable procedural chain are the norm.

The board was intended to be a single window to help investors get fast approvals. In actual experience, businesses have found the board functioning only as an additional window as they have to comply with the requirements of various departments individually. This defeats the very purpose of setting up the board. The board has to play a proactive role in getting investments and getting approvals. The state government set up the board with a vision to make Goa a desirable investment destination. The government needs to take steps to make the board focus on that core activity.

The objective behind setting up the Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board was to create 50,000 jobs by attracting investments of Rs 25,000 crore over a five-year period. The government plan was to attract businesses engaged in manufacturing, knowledge-based industries, tourism, entertainment and other service industries, which would help in improving environmental and social indicators of Goa. However, three years down the line only 179 projects with investment of less than Rs 1,400 crore have been cleared by the board. With many of the projects not yet operational it is not known how many jobs were created and how many of them were given to Goan youth. The Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board has the responsibility to help provide investors uninterrupted power, improved broadband connectivity to IT startups and the ease of doing business. The Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been raising these issues but without getting the help from the board to resolve them. These are disincentives that the government needs to address on a priority basis.

With three years passing since the formation of the board with no considerable investment coming in, the Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board faces a big task of achieving targets for investments and job opportunities. With over 1.20 lakh people on the live roll of the employment exchange in the state, Goa faces unemployment. A number of Goan youth, who are on the rolls, might be employed, but they are usually underemployed, that is, working in jobs lower in pay and position than what they deserve according to their qualification and skill. Investments keep the economy growing; the more the investment, the more the expansion. Both job employment and self-employment increase with the setting up of industries with the facilitation of investments. By appointing an expert to the board the government has shown its interest in professional management. The government is only undermining its purpose by loading the board’s CEO with many responsibilities. The government must find officers to lead the areas that have been added to the board’s CEO portfolio. Only when the CEO focuses on his work can the state government also evaluate his performance.

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