Goa: Vying to Re-draw IT Map of India

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Mr.Manish AroraKnown globally for its immense tourism potential, Goa’s soon-to-be-announced IT policy has all the elements required to transform the State into one of the most favoured IT investment destinations, writes Manish Arora of Elets News Network (ENN)

Having been one of the most favourite tourist destinations since ages, Goa now seems determined to create a niche for itself in the field of Information Technology as well. Apart from its vision to turn the State into an IT hub by attracting large investments, the Government of the day also intends to get a fair share of the IT products market.

One of the obvious advantages for the State remains its low tariff rates of power and water, which is claimed to be lowest in the country. Besides, some recent initiatives like ‘single window’ clearance system further boost the chances of the State of Goa to become an investment-friendly destination. After all, hassle-free clearance systems have always got favour with the investors — be they domestic or as international.

The State Government of the day, led by Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, is also laying due emphasis on the concept of ‘Make in India’. Some of the provisions of the soon-to-be-unveiled IT Investment Policy of the State seem directed towards attracting foreign companies. The policy has been envisioned not just to give a fillip to the industrial scenario in the State and earn huge revenues therefrom, but also to generate never-before employment opportunities in Goa, say government functionaries.

Officials in the State suggest that the Government is making an all-out effort to provide world-class facilities to IT/ ITeS for setting up businesses here, which would also go on to strengthen the IT infrastructure in Goa.

And, if anything, the upcoming IT investment policy would do just that.

Apart from making the State most preferred destination for investors, start-ups, IT/ITeS and ESDM sector, the Government also plans to promote audio-visual gaming and comics industry in Goa, thereby, leading to the growth of the State’s economy and employment generation.

Why Goa?

The State of Goa holds special recognition as a tourist destination. There are various factors, which make it worth an investment destination. In terms of basic amenities, the State has all to offer to the industries for setting up their businesses.

Over the years, Goa is has emerged an established destination for industries, as there are about 22 industrial estates and areas, which have been operating under a pro-industry government and a peaceful society, claim the officials to the Government.

Connectivity is a big plus for the State, as it has got the highest density of road connectivity through NH-17, while the Konkan Railways connects it with other western cities. In terms of air connectivity, one airport is already there at Dabolim, while an international airport is proposed at Mopa in North Goa. It is likely to become operational by the year 2020.

In addition to the rail-road connectivity, port has also been a big advantage in terms of excellent sea routes for good investments.

Another major factor, so very crucial for the growth of industries, remains quality human resource capital. As per the 2011 census, the State boasts of 88.7 per cent literacy rate with English-speaking population.

Plan of action

The Government of Goa, according to the proposed policy, is committed for the overall development of IT/ITeS and ESDM industry, with special focus on development of remote and under-developed areas. To attract IT industry in the State and develop an Electronics Manufacturing Cluster (EMC), the State Government has also made an elaborate plan of action.

Under the plan, the proposed site for EMC is in the village of Tuem of Pernem taluka of North Goa. The site is just five kms away from the national highway, at a short distance of six kms from Pernem Railway Station and approximately 40 kms from the Dabolim Airport. Similarly, it would fall within around 14 kms radius from the new proposed international airport.

One of the obvious advantages for the State remains its low tariff rates of power and water, which is claimed to be lowest in the country

The proposed site for IT Park is Chimbel village of Tiswadi Taluka of North Goa, which is around four kms from Panjim city and nine kms from the nearest railway station. The Government has also planned to ensure composite development of these areas with adequate power and water supply and better connectivity.

In the proposed policy, the Government of Goa has also expressed its willingness to work in close coordination with the private sector for development of the IT Park and EMC areas.

However, to avail the incentives offered by the Government, the applicant units would have to get certified as IT/ITeS/ESDM units and those should further be located in the notified areas.

According to Chief Minister Parsekar, “The policy will also discuss assembly line area in the IT sector, which would offer white collar jobs to local youth as desired by them.”

Incentives offered

Goa-Cover-StoryThe Government of Goa also proposes to offer a slew of incentives in the upcoming policy, which would surely be fruitful for the IT companies. From commencement to smooth running of IT companies, the Government would offer various reimbursements that would help these firms establish in their initial days.

These offerings would also encourage the start-ups in setting up their new IT businesses in Goa. In other words, these crucial steps would surely help Goa emerge as the next IT destination of India.

Talking to eGov magazine, Goa Chief Secretary R K Srivastava said, “The priority is to encourage investment and boost the ESDM sector, so that it may add to the GDP of the State. The demand of technology product has registered a significant growth. We understand that the demand of electronic products will increase by $400 billion by 2020. We would endeavour that a major chunk of it comes to Goa. The State is expected to be the next destination to cater to the domestic as well as the international market.”

Another incentive proposed is concessions on stamp duty. All eligible units would be entitled for 100 per cent reimbursement of stamp duty on lease of land/office building on commencement of operations.

The (IT investment) policy aims not just to give a fillip to the industrial scenario in the State but also to generate never before employment opportunities in Goa

There would be on exemption of CST as well. All eligible units setting up their business in notified places would be entitled for a 100 per cent reimbursement on CST for a period of 12 years from the date of commencement of operations, or till the time GST is introduced in the State.

Apart from these, there would also be Entry Tax-related benefits. All eligible units would be entitled for 100 per cent reimbursement of Entry Tax up to 12 years, paid on raw materials for self-consumption by the unit (expect Schedule-G goods) from the date of commencement of operations, or till the time GST Bill is introduced in the State.

Land-related incentives

Under the land-related incentives, highly subsidised land would be made available on the rates notified by the Revenue Department. All IT/ITeS/ESDM units established within the notified areas would, most likely, be eligible for 20 per cent rebate on the rates notified by the Revenue Department.

The land would be given on a long-term lease basis. The period of lease would be 30 years for the first year which could be extended up to 99 years later. Lease rent would just be two per cent of the premium amount for the first 10 years.

Other Incentives

Additionally, there are various other incentives proposed to be offered on power, land use, fasttrack clearance mechanism, quality certification, skill-gap training, special incentives for Goans, and outstanding Contribution Awards and Incentives on case-to-case basis.

In terms of early bird incentives to the first three eligible units with a capital investment of `5 crore or higher, a special incentive of `5 lakh each is another bait to be offered by the State.

In short, the pro-active approach of the State Government and the favourable industrial environment prevailing there, coupled with an upbeat mood of the Government functionaries, the stage seems set for emergence of Goa as the next IT destination of India.

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