Interview | Kerala

Kerala is a brand, investors are coming: State Industries Minister P. Rajeev 

Kerala Industries Minister P. Rajeev. Photo: Twitter/@PRajeevOfficial

Kerala Industries Minister P. Rajeev. Photo: Twitter/@PRajeevOfficial

Kerala’s ‘Year of Enterprises’ drive that aims to start one lakh Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) is well on target with tremendous achievements within the first quarter itself, State Industries Minister P. Rajeev has said. The State has announced financial year 2022-23 as the Year of Enterprises. In the first four months, work on more than 45,000 MSMEs have started, with an investment of ₹2687.91 crore. They are expected to create nearly a lakh jobs, the Minister said.  

In an exclusive conversation with The Hindu in the national capital, the Minister said Kerala was building on the international reputation it gained with its uniquely successful management of the Covid pandemic to turn the State into an attractive investment destination. Investors and companies conscious of ESG — Environmental, Social, and Governance — factors, a global trend now, will find Kerala extremely attractive, according to the Minister.

“Environmental and social consciousness is very high in the State. We are developing an industry-friendly environment that the world finds attractive and is suitable for the particularities of the State,” the Minister said. “From handicrafts to pharmaceuticals and from food to textiles, we are in the process of building a Kerala brand,” Mr. Rajeev said. 

Mr. Rajeev said a new initiative to encourage private players to consolidate land parcels for industrial purposes will go a long way in dealing with a critical challenge. There is a ceiling of 15 acres for land ownership in Kerala. Private players with a minimum of 10 acres of land can apply online to obtain the Private Industrial Estate Developer Permit.

“The government will give them up to ₹3 crores as subsidy to develop the infrastructure. Entrepreneurs can consolidate that much land, develop infrastructure and sell or rent it out for industrial purposes. The township will exempt from local body regulations,” said the Minister, adding that if the proposed project is on more than 15 acres, the government will quickly provide an exemption from land ceiling to get the project on.

“Kerala cannot have industries that require too much land, or that are polluting. Eastern side of Kerala is ecologically sensitive, western side is under coastal zone regulation and the middle part is under wetland regulation. So, we have to make the optimal use of the land that we have and build an industrial base suitable for the circumstance,” Mr. Rajeev said.  

To enable prospective entrepreneurs to turn their plans into reality, a team of 1,153 management professionals have been deployed as field officers, the Minister said. 37 banks in the States offer loans at 9% interest, on which the State government offers 4% subvention.

“The field professionals have monthly targets to meet, and they work with local bodies and local banks to ensure that the idea gets translated into reality,” said Mr. Rajeev. All projects up to ₹50 crore investment in MSME sector can self certify all regulatory requirements and start operations, the Minister said. 

Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (KELTRON), a public sector unit that had collapsed, is being revived and turned into a catalyst for electronics manufacturing in the State, the Minister said.

“We should remember that when KELTRON was started in 1973, South Korea was starting off its electronics manufacturing sector. We are rekindling that vision, and PSU is all set to reach a turnover of ₹1,000 crore in two years,” the Minister said, noting that it has already started making profits. “Reviving public sector units is part of our strategy. And we have large number of private players coming to Kerala. The State is home to 10 unicorns and the startup ecosystem has become vibrant,” the Minister said. 

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Printable version | Aug 16, 2022 5:00:52 pm |