The focus on improving business atmosphere and ease of doing business and establishing a new manufacturing cluster are significant pointers to the future progress of industry as evidenced in the Governor’s policy address.
The government’s aim is to turn Kerala into one of the top five States in terms of ease of doing business over the next year.
The policy address lists a slew of measures, including the launch of a 24-hour toll-free number to answer investor queries . Investment facilitation centres at the district level and the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation at the State level will also handle queries and facilitate investments.
While these measures are well-intentioned, there is a need to go in for evidence-based policy measures to improve the ease of doing business, says P.M. Mathew, director of the Kochi-based Institute for Small Enterprises and Development.
He said there were always questions being asked when investment proposals came in. “They come at the local and State levels and evidence-based steps alone can convince people of the suitability and need for fresh investments in a democratic system,” he said.
The policy dedicates space to underline the government effort to acquire more than 1,300 acres for an integrated manufacturing cluster in Palakkad /Thrissur under the Kochi extension of the national industrial corridor project. Preparation of a master plan for the project will begin soon, the address says.
While these measures augur well for the future, the government must be more realistic in its decisions on key issues that affect existing industries.
T.H. Badaruddin, former district president, Kerala State Small Industries Association, feels that some decisions are imposed from the top. He pointed to the case of the plastic ban, which had hit industries badly.
If the government could take a decision on establishing proper waste treatment facilities, it could have made a distinction between different types of plastic in implementing the ban, he claimed.
The Governor’s address said start-up entrepreneurs would be assisted through a comprehensive innovation acceleration scheme. The government also planned to come to the aid of MSMEs, which faced problems in raising enough funds to get them off the ground.
A new scheme for raising margin money for nano units, both in the manufacturing and service sectors would be launched soon.
The government has also decided to move ahead with a world-class exhibition facility for industries. It is being envisaged as a joint venture with the India Trade Promotion Organisation and involves building a world-class exhibition and convention centre on 15 acres near Kakkanad.
The government has expressed its concern for women workers in the handloom sector by firming up plans to launch a handloom family welfare scheme.
In the same sector, the Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board will be helped to increase production and sales through design and diversification.