Kerala industries and law minister P Rajeeve has a very daunting task in hand.The state ranks 29, even behind Lakshadweep, in the ‘Ease of doing business index’ released in December 2021. Rajeeve tells Rajesh Ravi on the makeover challenge and plans for the state. Excerpts:
The state has some misgivings on the ‘Ease of doing business index’?
Yes. We have raised the issue with the Union commerce minister, Piyush Goyal. Kerala implemented all the proposals put forward by the central government and was confident of improving the rank. But there was a survey in the study which is not transparent and the points of the survey has not been uploaded to the website so far. The survey was conducted by speaking directly to entrepreneurs of the states.
You have said repeatedly that the state cannot afford to be a retirement home status any- more. Do you have a plan?
It is a reality that our young ones have to go to other places in search of jobs and the old and retired are left behind. We have to make the state an investment destination with jobs. ‘Work from home or Kerala is a concept we are promoting post-Covid. We have been streamlining the process to start a business and an MSME (investments up to Rs 50 crore) can be started in a single day. The investor has only to register and get an acknowledgment from the K-SWIFT portal. And, any investments above Rs 50 crore can get a composite licence in a week.
The state has also repealed some archaic laws and reduced compliance burden…
Yes. The government is coming with a Bill to repeal laws and rules that are completely outdated.
We have taken steps to reduce the regulatory compliance burden and integrated 21 departments offering 79 services. All formalities can be done online.To reduce the subjective factors in inspections we have brought them under Kerala – Central Inspection System(K-CIS), so the inspections are selected online and no officer can cause harm or give undue benefits. There is also a ‘Statutory Grievance Redressal Mechanism’ so that concerns of the investors are addressed fairly and quickly.
Kerala has been talking about responsible investment…
Scarcity of land is a big issue. We have Western Ghats on one side, there is a lot of wetlands in the middle and then we have the ocean. Citizens are also very conscious about protecting the environment and so our focus is ‘responsible industry- responsible investment’.