BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHAMBER
… a journey of a 100 years
Nineteenth-century Goa saw a new class of elite, the result of education available to them. This helped create a bourgeois class that dominated business and interacted with the outside world. Portugal already had its Assogiagao Comercial de Lisboa in 1854. This prompted Goans also to have one.Mr.Luis Guilherme Dias called for a meeting of like-minded businessmen at the house of Dr.Antonio Maria de Cunha, a physician by profession. The meeting took place on 7th July 1907. They decided to form and establish the Assogiagao Comercial da India Portuguesa.On 6th of December 1908, the first Managing Committee was elected and Luis Guilherme Dias became the 1st President of the Chamber. The number of members went on increasing from the 34 founding members. They included a cross-section of different businesses in Goa – from Margao, Sanvordem, Mapuca, Ucassaim, Saligao, Verem etc. There were wholesale dealers, retailers, wood businesses, pharmacy owners, binding enterprises, cloth merchants etc.
Great difficulties were felt by the merchants who imported or exported goods or brought them from the other side of the river Mandovi as there was no jetty which could be used to load and unload the cargo. Transporting the goods by sea was practical and cheaper as road transport was expensive. The new committee requested the government to immediately start the construction of a new jetty near the Dock of Nova Goa for loading and unloading of cargo. It was at the Chamber’s initiative that a banking house was started under the name of Banco da India Portuguesa in 1914. In 1916, the Chamber catalyzed the steamship service between Goa and Portugal to boost trade between the two countries. In 1954, when the Government of India imposed an economic blockade against Goa, the Chamber arranged for a Portuguese shipping company to touch Goa directly to minimize hardships to the local population.Another landmark of the Association was the starting of a bulletin ‘Boletim da Assogiagao Comercial da India Portuguesa’ on 15th January 1954. The Assogiagao was also instrumental in keeping the members informed of the overseas traders who wanted to import and export products to and from Goa.
On 19th December 1961, the Indian Government liberated from Portuguese rule. In the new scenario after liberation, the Assogiagao became very active and worked to solve the difficulties faced by the business community and the community in general due to political change. The Chamber took up the various problems confronting the business community with regard to the taxation and made several representations on the subject. Prominent among them was one with regard to the Status of the Hindu Undivided Families in Goa, Notices under Sec.148 of the Income Tax Act, Registration of Firms formed under the Portuguese rule , Exemption of Interest on Loans borrowed from foreigners prior to extension of Income TaxAct of Goa, Daman and Diu.
On 12th April 1962, the members met at the General Assembly and decided that they would change the name from Assogiagao Commercial da India Portuguesa to Goa Chamber of Commerce. In 1968, the Chamber framed the new Bye-laws and changed the name to Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry.On 19th of April, a delegation of the Chamber had the honour of meeting with the Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and extended an invitation to him to visit Goa. The Prime Minister came to Goa in May 1963 and during his stay visited the Chamber which hosted a dinner in his honour.
Liberation of Goa also saw the growth of industry in Goa and a change from a mainly agricultural state. It was the need of the hour for the Chamber to orient business and to train its members to become successful entrepreneurs. The Chamber decided to undertake a study to assess the potentialities for the economic development of Goa. It felt that mere expansion of the existing industries would not solve the problems. For successful transformation of the existing trading economy into an industrial one, establishment of a large number of small-scale industries rather than a few large-scale units was required. The Chamber interceded with the Central Government to notify Goa as an industrially backward area so that it would benefit from the various concessions available to industrial units set up in such notified areas.
On 2nd July 1960, the Assogiagao purchased a plot to have its own building and a committee was formed to collect funds for the construction. The industrial magnate Sri Arvind Mafatlal formally inaugurated the building on 10th November 1968 that was built at a cost of Rs.4 lakhs. Mr.Pandurang Timblo was the President of the Chamber at that time.In 2004, under the Presidentship of Mr.Nitin Kunkolienker and in keeping with his corporate philosophy of making the workplace atmosphere a pleasant one, the GCCI Panaji office was redesigned and refurbished to give it a modern, corporate identity. The Surendrababu Timblo Hall was also revamped. It is now a popular venue for events and is much sought after by various associations as well as government bodies.
The Chamber’s building in Panaji was renamed as Narayan Rajaram Bandekar Bhavan on 10th November 2006, due to the generous contribution of Rs. 50 lakhs made by Shri Narayan Bandekar. The foundation stone of the GCCI building at Verna Industrial Estate was laid on 11th January 2006 at the hands of the Chief Minister Shri Pratapsing Rane in the presence of the Industries Minister Shri Luizinho Faleiro. The state-of-the-art building was inaugurated on 30 May 2008 by Mr.Digambar Kamat, Chief Minister of Goa. Mr.Nitin Kunkolienker was the President of GCCI at the time.
GCCI has taken up several issues concerning Goan economy with the Government such as infrastructure development, education, employment opportunities, pollution and waste management, which it believes are priorities for the state. Recognising the important role that women play in the society, GCCI established the ‘Women’s Wing’ in the year 2005. The Women’s Wing is active in its various social endeavours. It organizes ‘Asturi’ – an annual exhibition to encourage entrepreneurship among women.
The Chamber is actively promoting the State as an ideal destination for IT development and under the aegis of Goa Agenda has held various seminars on subjects like ‘IT for Society’, ‘Emerging Markets in IT’, ‘Outsourcing – Challenges Ahead’, ‘Incubation Centres – Challenges for Replicating Successes’,’ Knowledge as Driver of Goan Economy’, ‘Alternate Delivery Models in IT Industry’ etc. All these seminars were addressed by the leading IT professionals from Indian IT industry.
In September 2011 the Goa Information Technology Innovation Centre – GITIC was set up at GCCI’s state-of-the-art building at Verna, Goa’s premier industrial estate. GITIC, a joint venture between GCCI & the Department of Industries, Govt of Goa, is a business incubator and an investment facilitation centre providing a platform for IT innovators to work on their ideas in high-tech premises with comprehensive business support services. Within a short time of less than a year, it has incubated 10 companies which, have got rave reviews in the press for their innovation. After efforts of GCCI along with various bodies such as the Goa Pharma Manufacturers’ Association, Mormugao Port, Customs Commissionerate, Goa was nominated a notified port for pharma exports in Dec’11.
During its 108 years of existence, the Chamber has undergone many changes – in name, function, procedure, style composition and structure. It has however retained the values inculcated by the visionaries who had started this great institution.