The rain gods showered their benevolence on Goa and we continue to be abundantly blessed. The Goan greens welcomed our keynote speaker, Mr R Chandrashekhar, on the beautiful Sunday of 3rd July, to the General Session of our AGM. Mr R Chandrashekhar who is the President of NASSCOM, and is the former Secretary to the Indian Department of Information Technology and a member of the government’s technology advisory group, TAGUP delivered his keynote address – ‘Digital India – Opportunities and Challenges’. He said that India’s strength lies in software development and in design and innovation and that leveraging Digital Technology could mean USD 500 billion to 1 trillion annually to India’s economy. I think that this requires us to position India as the foremost software provider in the world. This also holds a great significance for Goa to give impetus to IT so that Goa becomes a key contributor to help move from a supply driven digital India to a demand driven one.
On the day of the 108th AGM, the Chamber was also happy to celebrate the 60th Birthday of our Chief Minister, Mr Laxmikant Parsekar a day prior to the D-day by presenting him with a shawl and memento. The CM was equally happy to usher in his birthday at the AGM in the midst of all of you members and industry representatives and obliged the gathering by cutting a cake. We were also happy to have in our midst Hon’ble Minister of Industry, Mr Mahadev Naik, Chairman, IDC, Mr Ganesh Gaonkar, Chairman EDC, Mr Siddharth Kunkolineker who not only honoured us with their presence but also addressed the gathering. The common refrain heard from all these eminent government representatives was that while they understood and appreciated the industry’s demands they also requested GCCI’s support in their endeavours to usher in change.
GST will be one such game changing reform for Indian economy which is being sought to be implemented by the Central government. The GST Bill is expected to be passed in the Rajya Sabha in this monsoon session. With GST, it is anticipated that the tax base will be comprehensive, as virtually all goods and services will be taxable, with minimum exemptions. It will impact the Tax Structure, Tax Incidence, Tax Computation, Tax Payment, Compliance, Credit Utilization and Reporting leading to a complete overhaul of the current indirect tax system. GST will affect all industries, irrespective of the sector. It will impact the entire value chain of operations, namely procurement, manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, sales, and pricing. In order to create an overall awareness and to prepare the industry to adapt and implement the necessary changes effectively, GCCI organised two sessions – one each in north and south Goa. The seminars were addressed by Adv. Bharat Raichandani, a profound speaker on Budget, VAT and Service Tax with over 15 years of experience in arguing tax related cases before various High Courts. Both the seminars received a tremendous response from members and non-members who appreciated that the Chamber was proactive in disseminating such important information.
The Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India is in the process of setting up Model Career Centres- MCC all over the country. In Goa, Panaji is one such MCC, operating under the Regional Employment Exchange. At their request, GCCI and NIPM under the National Career Scheme organised the first ever job fair under NCS initiative of the Central Government. The job fair received a huge response from jobseekers of Goa as more than 1000 jobseekers attended the Job Fair. There were more than 200 vacancies available for job seekers and participating companies received over seven hundred applications. The fair was a success not only because of the excellent response it received from the employers and job seekers, but also because it was a sort of a formal roll-out of the NCS scheme. This is a new, transparent and effective system which seeks to phase out the employment exchanges in the country and have a more responsive system which not only takes care of placements but also helps in a job aspirant’s career planning.
It was observed by the Chamber that the Certificate of Zoning issued by the Department of the Town and Country Planning towards the applied survey number for plots used to be very vague and inconclusive. As a member of the TCP Board, I had taken up this issue with the TCP Department and had requested them to direct the concerned authorities to give the necessary details when a zoning certificate is issued. I am happy to inform you that the TCP has accepted our suggestions and has issued a Circular instructing all District and Taluka level offices of the TCP and all Planning /Development Authorities to issue the zoning certificate with relevant details including area and survey numbers specifying multiple zones if such be the case. It has further stipulated that the certificate has to be issued within seven working days from the date of payment of the processing fees.
The Chamber has been demanding the nationalisation of Goa waterways for quite some time. Goa Chamber thanks the Central Government and more particularly the Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Mr Nitin Gadkari, for declaring the six major waterways in Goa as National Waterways under the National Waterways Act, 2016. The State authorities were not able to carry out any development activities due to paucity of funds and at the same time were unwilling to cede control on the waterways to the Central authorities. Now, the Central Government will be able to carry out various developmental activities, most important being dredging of Mandovi and Zuari rivers which has not been done for past several years. If properly developed, Goan inland waterways can emerge as a cheaper and safer alternate mode of transport as compared to the congested and accident prone Goan roads.
GCCI is happy to partner and support all initiatives which help ushering in positive change.
(President – GCCI)