It is indeed heartening that our request to the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar to reconsider and modify some aspects of GST has paid dividends. His presence and timely assertions at the GST Council’s meeting on 6th October helped us to secure many concessions which will make compliance much easier, particularly for small and medium tax payers. Increasing of turnover limit for Composition Scheme, limiting frequency of returns for taxpayers with annual turnover below Rs. 150 lakhs, suspension of reverse charge mechanism till 31st March 2018 and deferment of E-Way Bill provisions are some of the major concessions that the Hon’ble Chief Minister was able to secure and which will provide a lot of relief to tax payers. On behalf of the trade and industry and more particularly on behalf of the small and medium enterprises, I wish to express our sincere gratitude to him for his efforts in mitigating the difficulties faced by the industry in implementation of GST.
I had stated earlier that the industry welcomes the
consolidation of four wage laws into one code by the Centre, which will signal the further consolidation and rationalization of labour laws. However, one provision in ‘The Code of Wages Bill 2017’ could be devastating for the industry sector in India, and particularly, to our small state of Goa. The provision empowers the Central government to fix the national minimum wage. The cost of living varies from state to state and economic conditions and ground realities along with skill requirements have to be factored in for every state. Hence a uniform minimum wage is not really feasible for the industry. We are still following up on this important issue and have joined hands with national industry associations such as ASSOCHAM and FICCI which have also decided to vigorously take up this issue and to put up the industry problems before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour under the chairmanship of Dr Kirit Somaiya. We do hope that the government reconsiders the impact of this , especially with respect to the rural areas in the country, as the incentive for the industry to invest in smaller states and hinterlands will be lost if uniform minimum wages for the country are adopted.
The number of tourists visiting Goa far outnumbers its population. We have to therefore take special care of existing infrastructure even as new additions are being made. Government has initiated construction of new bridges on the Mandovi and Zuari rivers the lifelines of Goa. Other than being used extensively for transporting the mining ore, other industries have also started using the rivers for movement of their raw materials and finished products such as slag, coke, coal, pig iron, cement, pellets, tiles etc. There have been numerous incidents in the past of barge collision or barge hitting the foundation pillars of the bridges and disturbing the navigational channel and causing considerable damage to the pillars of the bridge. This has affected the safety and the life of the bridges. These accidents are due to an absence of transit light for guiding the barge movement. We have requested the Hon’ble Minister of Public Works Department, Shri Sudin Dhavalikar to ensure the safety of the river infrastructure by ensuring that transit lights are put up at suitable locations and suitable protection devices are put up on the foundation pillars along the navigational channels.
That Goa has a huge potential in Medical Tourism is evident from the fact that we are increasingly attracting tourists who are utilizing facilities in Dental, Cosmetic, Ayurveda, Yoga and Wellness Clinics. However, no clear details are available about the numbers of medical tourists and service providers. A Goa Medical Tourism Policy will allow us to streamline this revenue model for effective implementation of services. Goa needs to create a viable model to bring all stakeholders i.e. state Government, Private Healthcare providers and Hospitality sector together to build a positive image for Goa as a Medical Tourism destination just as Kerala and Gujarat have effectively done.
Goa is regarded as the perfect getaway for creative people. ‘The Goa Project’ a crowd-sourced event is one such assemblage of creative minds from all over the country focusing on tracks such as Music, Design, Interactive Media & Cinema, Performing Arts etc. GCCI was the outreach partner of ‘The Goa Project 2017’ the fifth edition of this event – and helped promote it locally. We Goans consider creativity as our forte and have shone brightly on shores beyond. We should not only host and encourage such events in our backyard but also play an active part in creative activities within Goa.
Considering the importance of tourism as one of the main revenue generators for the state, the formation of ‘The Goa Tourism Board’ is a long-standing demand of GCCI. We envisage this as the apex authority to formulate the overall tourism policy of the state . If the vision is to promote Goa as the Prime Tourism Destination, then we would need a future-ready tourism approach and infrastructure. For this a professionally managed board would be ideal. GCCI is pursuing this issue with the Government. May pragmatism prevail!