Entrepreneurs in the district had a relatively good time last year going by the investment figures released by the District Industries Centre (DIC).

According to the DIC, investments worth Rs.464.10 crore were made in the district in the 2012-13 fiscal, accounting for 1,951 new enterprises and 17,875 job opportunities.

State Investment Subsidy to the tune of Rs.7.29 crore was disbursed among 156 industrial units.

As many as 99 entrepreneurs were provided loan, in addition to margin money grant worth Rs. 130.95 lakh under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme.

During the last fiscal, the State government brought in an Entrepreneur Support Scheme (ESS) merging and replacing a plethora of schemes that existed earlier. ESS among other things aims at extending extensive support to micro, small and medium enterprises and giving one-time support to entrepreneurs. Since ESS was introduced towards the fag end of the financial year, only a few units received its benefits, DIC sources said.

During 2012-13, the District Industrial Single Window Clearance Board disposed of 41 complaints out of the 54 applications, while deemed licences were issued to nine applicants.

However, industry players felt many issues remained to be addressed. Availability of labour was a huge challenge, T.H. Badarudeen, district president, Kerala State Small Industries Association, said. Though migrant labourers were available, there remained an element of uncertainty, he said. Excessive interference of village and block level panchayats was cited as another problem. It was alleged that the civic bodies posed obstructions even after no objection certificates from statutory bodies were submitted. “We have taken up the matter with the district panchayat who has agreed to convene a meeting of panchayat chairpersons to discuss the issue. We are also planning to stage a dharna in front of the district collectorate next month against such interference,” Mr. Badarudeen said.

K.N. Marzook, chairman, Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, however, dispelled any notion of a favourable investment climate in the State. “The power supply is at best erratic and the burgeoning power bill means there is no incentive for investment here as the product will not be cost-efficient,” Mr. Marzook said.

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