Kerala woos NRI investors
Kerala's transformation into an investor-friendly state over the past three years has been quite dramatic, the state's Industry Minister EP Jayarajan said, urging NRI entrepreneurs to avail of a spate of "ease of doing business" reforms and other progressive initiatives rolled out by the government.
Speaking to Khaleej Times during his recent visit to the UAE, the minister said the state has set into motion a series of bold reforms, including swift licensing process, effective governmental intervention to help investors ward off bankruptcy and confiscation of assets. Measures are also in place to exempt them from paying penal interest.
"We can assure investors that their interests will be safeguarded at all levels as the government is ready to go that extra mile to protect them from bureaucratic snags and other difficulties they used to encounter," Jayarajan said.
He said to solve any delay in licensing approval, the government has launched an online mechanism that will ensure clearance to investment proposals within 30 days of application. The online system K-Swift - Kerala Single Window Interface for Fast, Transparent Clearances - is a cutting-edge software application that simplifies and speeds up approval of clearances from departments and agencies looking to launch enterprises in the state.
"All investors will now receive clearances for their projects within 30 days. After 30 days, those projects will be deemed cleared if the application is not processed by then. The government will also examine the causes of delay and initiate action against those who are responsible. The 30-day time limit may be reduced to 15 days in future," said the minister, who was accompanying Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to Dubai to launch Overseas Keralites Investment Holding Company. At a roundtable on investment opportunities held during the delegation's visit, investors from the GCC pledged ?100 billion across various projects.
Declaring that a new era has begun in Kerala's industry sector, the minister warned that any delay in taking proactive steps in the online applications would result in punitive measures against the concerned departments and officials. "As per the new investment regime, for those who invest up to ?100 million, there is no need for any initial government approval. They can start their operation instantly but will have to complete the licensing process within three years. To expedite the process for those investing more than ?100 million, a special cell has been set up to help them start operations without any delay. The government is also keen to see that no investor should end up losing all his investment and going bankrupt," Jayarajan said.
He said the Left Democratic Front government has set a goal to increase MSMEs in the state and aims to provide jobs to around 50,000 people this year.
"Kerala is also setting up specific industrial parks in private and public sectors to cater to all types of industry. In rural areas, the area limit will be 25 acres. The urban parks will have 15 acres," he said.
Jayarajan said the state government also set up an Intelligent Building Plan Management System (IBPMS) that provides single-point, integrated and holistic online development permissions to applicants in specified timelines for ease of doing business.
He said Kerala, which ranks second in the Investment Climate Index, seeks to build an industrial infrastructure with an eco-friendly and sustainable model that helps in the production of long-term employment opportunities at globally acceptable wages. He said the Invest Kerala Portal, which was designed to improve the investment ecosystem of the state, would help entrepreneurs from India and abroad to explore and identify investment opportunities across a wide spectrum of areas.