President Desk – GCCI Bulletin Jan 2018

Dear Members,

January 2018 ! and we are off to a fresh start.

Fresh and young is generally what entrepreneurs are. Instead of years of wisdom, what they get with them is high energy and terrific ideas- many of which have changed the entire way we do business. Entrepreneurship continues to be the harbinger of economic growth in the country and the world. Ms. Ivanka Trump, Advisor to U.S President Donald Trump, led the US delegation at the eighth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad. Part of her delegation was international business advocate, Ms. Purnima Voria, Founder and CEO of the National US India Chamber of Commerce (NUICC) & Advisor to the Obama Administration on the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprises. Ms Voria agreed to share her experiences at the Summit with the members of Goan Business Community in January: ‘POST GES 2017 – Opportunities and Challenges for Entrepreneurs.’ She encouraged Indian, in particular, Goan entrepreneurs to connect with US businesses and to be ready for volumes as the U. S. is a vast global market.

The U.S has a new leadership style. President Trump was elected in 2016, but people, it would seem, have yet to come to terms with his style – brazen and ‘in your face’. As the world continues to watch the Big Brother, it was for the first time in eighteen years that a US President attended an annual gathering of global economic leaders at the World Economic Forum at Davos in January. Our P.M. Shri Narendra Modi’s speech at Davos was the first by an Indian head of state in more than two decades. This occasion also recognised India’s growth as an economic and geo-political power. While PM Modi spoke on the importance of globalisation, President Trump underlined his theory of ‘America First’ and said that it was the perfect time to do business in the U.S.

U.S seemed to be the flavour of the month at the Chamber, what with another Indian American and our local son-of-the soil, Dr Sanjay Kamat, Senior Advisor to Bell Labs Consulting (Silicon Valley) reporting to Nokia CTO and Nokia Bell Labs President, visiting the Chamber. In an interesting interaction, he explained how Goa could evolve into an IT-centered or IT-driven economy, provided right conditions were created to help retain and attract the technical and entrepreneurial talent with necessary capital investments. He said that to make Goa the leading IT export hub in India or Asia, it would need three kinds of local assets that needed to be cultivated – physical infrastructure, human/intellectual capital, and entrepreneurial culture and environment that fosters continuous innovation because of the super dynamic nature of the IT industry. Speaking on education and internship, Dr Kamat said that the two best ways to learn a subject or master a skill are to put the learning to work right away and mentor or teach others. The strategy to would be to guide/coach junior students through partnerships with schools and colleges.

As if on cue, the GCCI IT Committee introduced a unique concept – a first in Goa ‘home based internship’ in a few colleges in Goa. The Goa University allows students to pursue the internship of two weeks at the engineering level. However, not all students are aware of the internships available nor is the industry aware of student/ intern availability. Based on their interest and skills, students can pursue internship at will within the specified term. This is our small step to bring about a change.

Goa Chamber is extremely disturbed about the severe setback to the Goan economy and business interests in the recent days on account of stoppage of mining in Goa due to Supreme Court order. Mining, one of the key contributors to Goa’s economy, braces itself for another year and a bigger turbulence. After being in the eye of a storm, it is a new struggle for Goa’s ore. Due to extremely low demand for lower grades of ore, Goan exporters are compelled to give steep discounts to the extent of 45 to 50% (of international benchmark price) to sell their iron ore. At the prevailing high level of taxes including the double whammy of Goa Iron Ore Permanent Fund (GIOPF) and District Mineral Fund (DMF), iron ore miners in Goa are hardly competitive. As if this was not enough, the direct employees of the mining companies, the individual truck and barge contractors, machinery hirers, and various ancillary trades associated with mining including small shop owners and market vendors in the mining belts of Goa are already shivering with the prospective gloom post closure of mining from March 16, 2018. We have requested the Chief Minister that while deciding on viable solutions for sustainable mining in future in Goa, the interests of all Goan stakeholders be protected adequately. The Goan leaseholders (erstwhile ‘concessionaires’) have painstakingly developed the international markets for low-grade Goan ore over 3-4 generations and in the process, pioneered investments in latest machineries, beneficiation plants, trans-shippers, floating cranes and even got investments from Japan to develop Mechanical Ore Handling Plant (MOHP) at Mormugao Port. Hence it’s imperative that the state Government finds out an urgent, viable and long lasting solution to this imminent problem owing to the sudden stoppage of mining in the state.
New beginnings, new ties, beautiful weather and blue January skies. I pray that the haze of uncertainty in Goa’s economy clears off.
All the best for the new year 2018!

Sandip Bhandare