What are your plans for Kerala’s industrial development in the post-Covid-19 phase?
A/ Covid-19 has struck at a time when the state was making the right moves towards improving the industrial climate in the state. Now, in the changed scenario, our primary focus is on agriculture and industries that suit Kerala’s peculiarities. We realised the importance of self-reliance during the Covid-19 period. So that would be our primary prerogative. Covid-19 has opened new vistas and opportunities, too. Kerala has great possibilities in industries related to life science, bio-technology, medical equipment and electronics.
Kerala had a low rank—28—in the investment-friendly index of the Union government.
A/ It was an unjust decision. Our government has enacted a number of laws for ensuring the ease of doing business. Now no prior permission is required to start an MSME in the state; 3,559 new enterprises have been started in the last nine months. Since 2016, 58,137 MSMEs have been started and this accounts for the 40 per cent of total MSMEs in the state. This has brought investment worth 05,700 crore and created 2.5 lakh jobs. This being the situation, how can this ranking be justified?
What are the major steps you have taken to improve Kerala’s industrial climate?
A/ Kerala is certainly one of the most industry-friendly states in the country now, thanks to the conscious efforts that the left government has taken in the last four-plus years. We have enacted seven new laws and 10 amendments to existing laws to [make the state industrial-friendly]. Single window clearance for industrial projects has been one huge step in that direction. Now anybody can start an enterprise in the state with a self-written affidavit and one needs to get clearance only in a stipulated time frame of three years. Even in this Covid-19 period, 3,000-plus people have used this facility. For projects worth 0100 crore, one can start business within a week and the licence period has been raised from three years to five years.
The left governments have always been supportive of the PSUs. How good have the performances of PSUs been under you?
A/ When this government came into power, most PSUs in the state were in pitiable state and had a collective loss of 0132 crore. Out of the 42 PSUs, only eight were profitable and most were on the verge of closing down. But in the last four years, they have all made huge progress. For the past two years, 13 PSUs have been reporting profits, and this number is expected to touch 20 in the coming years.