Anirudh Dempo, President of Goa State Industries Association speaks on issues faced by the industries in Goa and his plans for the association during his term
What are your views about the last few years at GSIA?
The Goa State Industries Association (GSIA) has played a critical role in being the voice for industry and MSMEs over the last many years. With high promoter participation, GSIA is the ultimate peer to peer industrial organisation of Goa, with excellent camaraderie among members. We have gained the confidence of both the establishment and our members as the unfiltered voice of industry.
What is the primary focus of GSIA during your term as President?
We will have to have a multifaceted approach to achieving our targets. Firstly, we have to work to improve and complete delivery of all key services, without human interface in a timely manner along with a robust grievance redressal mechanism and a transparent dashboard.
Work on basic utility gaps such as roads, power, water etc as there has been years of neglect in industrial estates. As technology is improving rapidly, it is also important to leverage it internally within our members through peer to peer learning.
What legacy programs do you plan on taking forward from your predecessors?
GSIA has worked continuously on all fronts over the last few years. We have had a change in leadership after 4 years. It is imperative that the positive momentum continues. Along with GIDC matters, we take up issues related to factories and boilers, pollution control, fire, electricity, labour and employment etc. There are genuine issues that the industry is facing with each of these Departments which we have taken up in the past. All these will have to be taken to its logical conclusion.
(L to R) Top Row: Atul Naik, Sudin Naik, Joseph Mathew, Kiran Shirsat, Anirudh Dempo (President), Mauvin Godinho (Industries Minister), Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco (Goa-IDC Chairman), Damodar Kochkar (Imm. Past President), Gautam Verlekar, Sanat Raiturkar, Pravin Blaggan, Parag Joshi, Shekhar Sardessai, John Pinto 2nd Row: Mayuresh Dhume, Prakash Kapadia, Nitin Desai, Rupesh Gauns and Blaise Costabir
Goa’s ranking in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ (EoDB) needs improvement. Please share your views on the same.
EoDB has been the bane of the state for quite a few years now. Most of the work has happened on a piecemeal basis, and that too just before the rankings have taken place. We have not really had a ‘Champion’ for the implementation of EoDB from the Government to drive action and get things done in mission mode. This affects the ultimate experience for industry and information does not flow seamlessly across departments. This is not to say that there has been no improvement, but in a federally competitive environment, one has to adopt technology faster than others. There is work required in Goa. We will once again push the government for complete implementation of an effective Single Window.
Recently the government has announced a hike in minimum wages which has been appreciated and criticised by certain industry bodies. What is your take on the hike?
While a genuine review of minimum wages is incumbent on any government, and industry has proactively participated in the past, this time around, the entire process was an exercise in smoke and mirrors. With no regard for procedures laid down, a unilateral draft notification was issued back in October 2022 without any discussion. Only after the collective petition by 22 associations, and record number of objections, did some rollback happen. The calculated wage as per the All India Consumer Price Index (AICPI) was 435, industry collectively recommended 450 and later 470. However the daily wage of 512 was finally notified. While significantly higher than the scientific figure, it was short of the unmitigated disaster of the draft notification. For that we thank the Goa Government for its intervention.
The State Government is proposing amendments to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Act and regulations relating to industrial plots. How will this benefit industries in Goa?
This is actually a ray of hope for the industry. When such intent is shown by the Corporation management, it is imperative that we support and participate in the process, which we believe we have done. The IDC has a legacy of bureaucratic obstructionism and a landlord mentality, but that is certainly changing with its dynamic leadership. We have urged the Chief Minister and the Industries Minister to ensure that the current Managing Director continues for at least 3 years, so that we have enough continuity to complete various projects.
What other issues is industry facing apart from GIDC?
One of the major tenets of EoDB is to have a consistent policy framework. Recently, in all the departments mentioned earlier, we have faced ad hoc orders or legislation, which in our opinion, is not pragmatic or serving its intended purpose. For example, the Labour Department increased the retrenchment compensation to 45 days from the 15 days in the rest of the country. Instead of supposedly helping the worker, most workers of closed units were simply transferred, thus many even deprived of the 15 days compensation. Retrenchment benefits were enjoyed by 80% fewer employees. Similarly, the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) decided to implement a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order on generators, to retrofit emission control devices, which is not at all applicable in Goa as Goa’s Particulate Matter (PM2.5) is well below World Health Organisation (WHO) standards. Such instances have been seen in Factories and Boilers and the Fire Department, as well. This policy risk not only affects existing units, but acts as a disincentive for potential investors.
Where do you see GSIA in a year from now?
A year is not such a long time. I am sure we at GSIA will continue our genuine efforts for betterment of industry. We hope to augment membership to a minimum of 500 active members. We intend to improve our internal systems to better serve our members. But more importantly, I hope we can work to achieve a vision for the industrial environment in the state. Contrary to popular belief, the manufacturing industry is the major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Goa as per the economic survey. They provide stable employment to a large part of the local populace without any burden on the Government. The Government has budgeted only 28 crore for the Industries Department. Yet hurdles created for new industry has resulted in very few units, especially large ones, coming in to Goa. We need to change this collectively. Last but not the least; I hope to increase our involvement in social responsibilities. We will work towards being a bridge between industry and social areas of concern and work towards a happy society.