The resignation of Vishal Praksh, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Investment Promotion Board has caused the business community in Goa reeling and questioning the alleged red-tapism that exists in the business world in Goa.
Vishal, a former investment banker resigned on September 10th this year citing reasons of red-tapism and the fact that he has not been paid the salary due to him since January this year. The reason his salary was not paid was due to a “dispute” on the payment of GST on his contract fee.
The CEO who was appointed by former CM late Manohar Parrikar was assured that on his taking up of duties he would be a party to all department meetings as well as be made known to all parties, which unfortunately never materialized due to the untimely illness and death of Parrikar.
The lack of trust between IPB and various government departments led to the sharing of only basic data and his profile was reduced to that of a lower division clerk, only shunting files from department to department. Travels outside the state were also curbed as approval had to be sought from different people in the bureaucracy.
After the mining ban, the revenue of Goa was on a decline and the State Government had to dispose of its bonds to ensure that government officials receive their salaries, perks, and increments in time.
The last four years have revealed that the State Government had taken a loan amounting to Rs. 7,320 crore by way of sale of bonds and given the low rate of investment in the state, the picture is very dismal.
Goa’s low ranking of 19, on the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB), had forced the then Minister Parrikar to request departments to get their act together and improve Goa’s rank. Significantly, Business Reforms Action Plan (BRAP), which was 18 percent last year, has now gone up to over 65 percent. The top three states in the list of EoDB are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Haryana.
People in the Industry have now begun questioning the role of the IPB and wonders whether it’s just a body to push files from department to department.
Former President of the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI) Nitin Kunkolienkar has said that the behavior of the IPB is sending negative signals to potential investors in Goa. No investor is aware of the role of IPB and the government should approach this matter proactively and clean up their act which also includes better quality of roads and infrastructure of the State.
Kirit Maganlal, past Chairman of Goa State Council, Confederation of Indian Industry, who worked with two former CEOs stated that Goa had little to offer to the business industry.
He added that CEO’S of IPB which were appointed especially keeping Ease of Doing Business, in mind, should be given the requisite powers through a seat in the cabinet as it is a norm in some states.
He also pointed out that the State Government should ensure that all their expertise over which they have been selected, is put to productive use and that the IPB needs more autonomy by way of suggesting structural labor reforms.
The CEO should be made as to the face of the government which will instill a sense of confidence in the investors.
Immediate Past President, Sandip Bhandare said the government should investigate the reasons for the resignation and resolve them and whoever takes his place next should be able to execute decisions as fast as possible.
Bhandare also feels that a person coming from the private sector would not be a good choice given that decisions in private sectors are taken faster with an element of risk in mind.
Rajkumar Kamat, president of Vibrant Goa said that most “Most important of course is the EoDB. Here what we require are simple but robust online systems and change in the mindset. This is where the focus needs to be. Government has identified the IPB as a single window for businesses and if the CEO is moving on, it is necessary to quickly hire another competent one and guided through before the present CEO is relieved so that there is continuity.
He further added that the Chief Minister should monitor activities by the IPB which will lead to an improvement in the EoDB and all these were important in the journey towards a Vibrant Goa.
Anil Counto, Chairman of Alcon Group, on the other hand, feels that the resignation of the CEO will not have an effect on EoDB, and it is the support and will of the government which drives any particular department or the board to perform their duties and make it a success.
Counto further added that in order to make the IPB more viable and proactive, red-tapism will need to take a backseat and the Government should have the will to push it forward.
Milind Anvekar, Vice President of Goa Technology Association said that the economy of Goa was always boosted by mining, tourism, and agriculture. However, after the mining ban, the strong need to support and promote other potential business sectors came to the fore.
As per the data available in 2018, Goa is ranked 18th in EoDB index for states in India. As part of the BRAP Plan for 2019, the Department of Industrial Policy and promotion has outlined 80 reforms that Goa has to implement as part of the nationwide exercise to improve EoDB.
Anvekar expressed his confidence in Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and stated that the commitment and support on part of the government to initiatives like Vibrant Goa wherein International Businesses and investors are invited to Goa for B2B, B2G, and G2G for the focused sectors clearly depicts the positive intent of the Government.
He further stated that they would all extend their cooperation to the Government and by 2020 the review will show that Goa will improve its ranking among other states.
Chairman of Fomento Group, Audhut Timblo has said that the Goa Government should get good advice from great minds and implement it faithfully and sincerely.
States like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana etc, have upped their ante and are very co-operative towards investors who show interest in their states. They feel that investment in their states will bring about more jobs and an increase in revenue.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is now extending his full support to the vibrant Goa event which is scheduled to take place in Goa next month. The event is slated to have more with various business houses and trading houses internationally.
After the mining ban and the revenue of the State dipping, and low-level jobs which are hardly available now, it is almost mandatory for Goa to look into such avenues.