“The pent up anger of the members culminated in GSIA filing the criminal complaint against Babu Kavlekar”

Rajkumar Kamat / President, Goa State Industries Association

The newly elected President of GSIA lists out the way forward for a beleaguered industry in the state; while explaining why GSIA went slow for 6 years on pursuing their complaint against former GIDC Chairman, Chandrakant ‘Babu’ Kavlekar

What are your immediate plans on taking over as GSIA President?

GSIA is the Apex body for micro, small and medium enterprises in Goa. Over the years, it has been working tirelessly to create an enabling industrial climate for its members to carry on their business efficiently.

Thanks to selfless commitment of my illustrious predecessors – Parag Joshi, Sudin Naik, Keshav Kamat, Atul Pai Kane, Atul Naik, Shekhar Sardessai and many other past Presidents, GSIA has been able to tackle many issues affecting the MSMEs in Goa.

GIDC has been a major bottleneck for industry in the last 5/6 years. GSIA, therefore, concentrated on putting it on track. These efforts, I believe, are now bearing fruits. With the industries portfolio being held by the Chief Minister himself, has helped in accelerating the pace of reforms at GIDC. This will help the GSIA team to work on more fronts this term.

I am a staunch believer of collective leadership and have continuously worked accordingly, whichever organisation I have been a part of – whether it is BNI which supports business persons and professionals grow their businesses; or GEMS which supports budding entrepreneurs by inspiring, educating and mentoring them to start their enterprise; or Rotary Club or for that matter my own business the EP Kamat Group. I fully subscribe to Ratan Tata’s view “Alone you can move fast but with a team you can move far”

We at GSIA have therefore decided to work on multiple fronts acronymed as IDEAS- which refers to

I – Infrastructure & GIDC,

D – Development of membership and members,

E – Ease of doing business,

A – Associating with industrial estate associations and other industry organisations,

S – Skill Development.

Fortunately, I have a committed team of office bearers in Damodar Kochkar, Anirudh Dempo, Gautam Verlekar and Kiran Sirsat; who have taken the responsibility of heading each of these verticals. The structure of each committee is such that executive team members also form a part of each of this sub-committee; and each member of the advisory committee is a mentor, guiding these committees.

Our whole objective is to engage with the government and create a conducive environment for SMEs in Goa, besides offering opportunities for development to the GSIA members; and in this process, generate employment for the youth.

With a responsive government led by Manohar Parrikar at the helm, I believe we will achieve our objectives.

ON PANDURANG MADKAIKAR: “Some immediate problems at Sancoale and a few other industrial estates were sorted out. Instructions were issued for specific action in other industrial estates. A mechanism to review the monthly progress with local industrial estate associate was also initiated”

What are the major challenges before the manufacturing stakeholders and industries in the state?

For the existing businesses, ease of doing business is a major challenge; and it needs to be improved drastically. I can see efforts in this direction but much more has to be done in the fastest possible time. This requires a major change in mindset among the government officers and employees, using technology to eliminate discretions and speeding up transactions is the need of the hour.

All of us know that Goa has very limited land to offer for industrial development. On top of it huge land bank is locked due to SEZ litigation, which is a big damper.

While water, to some extent, can be managed; power is another area where a lot more needs to be done. With the new power minister having taken firm control of the situation, I believe enough quality power will be made available to the industries in near future.

In addition to this, the new units wanting to expand or new ones wanting to set up need land and power.

For the existing businesses, ease of doing business is a major challenge; and it needs to be improved drastically. This requires a major change in mindset among the government officers and employees, using technology to eliminate discretions and speeding up transactions is the need of the hour

What infrastructural changes and facilities improvement do you expect in industrial estates?

Proper maintenance of existing power, water and road infrastructure coupled with cleanliness must be the top priority.

I also believe each industrial estate should have a centralised effluent / waste treatment plant as also operational fire hydrants throughout the estate. Multi-storeyed gala type sheds for micro and small units with pre-installed power, water and wi-fi connections will accommodate more than 100/150 small units in an area of approx. 15,000 m otherwise utilised by only 10/15 units presently.

Youngsters today are not showing great interest in choosing manufacturing over service oriented business. This is going to impact the GDP in a big level in the years to come. What are your plans to balance this concern?

A proper balance between agriculture, manufacturing and services sector, of course, is needed in the country; but in today’s situation of advanced logistics, GST and communication, I believe it is not a must that this balance needs to take place in every state of the country.

As it is, we are witnessing how in engineering colleges itself the shift has taken place. From only 3 disciplines of civil mechanical and electrical about 30/35 years back, the picture has totally changed in favour of IT and electronics.

The definition of manufacturing itself is changing. The industry trends are evolving dynamically. To compete, one needs to get into automation mode with controls coming through Internet of Things (IOT), Data analytics and other new age features. The type of jobs are changing. More jobs are coming up in areas which would otherwise be called services. The line between manufacturing and services is getting blurred.

I see no harm in youngsters today not choosing manufacturing over service oriented business. As long as the youngsters get into an area of their interest and strength; and find a niche for their products of services, I believe the natural flow of demand and supply will take care of the balance.

ON BABU KAVLEKAR: “GSIA filed the criminal complaint against Babu Kavlekar in 2011 due to the wholesale real estate business that he had entered into with regard to GIDC plots while denying plots to genuine entrepreneurs”

Is “Make in India” really working in Goa?

Presently not, but I am sure situation will change once the challenges in respect of land, power and ease of doing business improve as stated earlier.

Goa’s dismal performance in ease of doing business index vis-à-vis other states does not augur well for industrial investments in the state. How do you hope this situation to reverse?

Yes. Presently Goa ranks quite low in ease of doing business. This is primarily due to lack of well-defined systems and accountability at government departments. If you are well connected, you get your work done as a special favour from the political bosses. If not, you are left to whims and fancies of the department employees.

Accountability is missing. There are no monitored timelines to dispose application. Many of the government staff come to the office for attendance and not to deliver results.

Defining systems, going online and holding employees accountable are the most important factors to improving EODB.

What specific takeaways could you list after your meeting with the power minister recently? What’s happening to the power woes of the Goan Industry?

What I noticed was:

a) The power minister is well informed and is in control of the department.

b) He is very keen to ensure better dialogue with the industry and communicating right attitude.

c) He has galvanised the team and set higher standards.

Some immediate problems at Sancoale and a few other industrial estates were sorted out. Instructions were issued for specific action in other industrial estates. A mechanism to review the monthly progress with local industrial estate associate was also initiated.

Why did it take GSIA long 6 years (from 2011) to demand that criminal complaint against former GIDC chairman Babu Kavlekar should be converted into an FIR?

GSIA filed the criminal complaint against Babu Kavlekar in 2011 due to the wholesale real estate business that he had entered into with regard to GIDC plots while denying plots to genuine entrepreneurs.

The pent up anger of the members culminated in GSIA filing the criminal complaint (against Kavlekar); but the hurt was compounded by police claiming that it was not a cognizable offense and therefore not converted into FIR.

This was being pursued until new GIDC board came into existence in 2012. The new board decided that GIDC will file an FIR. The anger against corruption at the cost of genuine entrepreneurs was always there, but our major issue was need for transparent allotment of plots to genuine entrepreneurs. The new board under the guidance of CM and inputs from GSIA set up such a process shortly thereafter.

GSIA followed up with the GIDC board regarding the FIR – but industries’ major issue of transparent allotment had been addressed. As time passed and Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board was formed, the realisation that with huge amount of land locked in SEZ litigation, Goa is unable to invite substantial investment in the state had started staring in the face. The demand we made therefore was a culmination of this realisation that all those responsible for this state of affairs need to be brought to book.

Are you planning any programmes or seminars to spread best practices among GSIA members?

Of course, we will be having seminars and workshop not only to spread best practices among GSIA members; but also to offer opportunities to diversify and garner government business.

Already a very successful conclave on DRDO Food Technologies has been held last month. 29 technology transfer agreements were signed. We expect at least 15 more entrepreneurs to go in for DRDO technology in the next 6 months. I am sure you will find at least 10 technologies converted into successful enterprises by this time next year.

A cluster of light engineering units for lean manufacturing besides a national vendor development meet in collaboration with MSME is on the cards.

Monthly MDPs on HR, Finance, and Business Excellence etc would be a regular feature. Both state and central government have come out with lot of schemes for SMEs – GSIA will take a lead in dissemination this information so that maximum entrepreneurs utilise these and be cost competitive.

The whole idea is to facilitate an improved ecosystem and offer opportunities for development of SMEs in Goa

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