On Thursday, January 9th, Kochi hosted ASCEND 2020, a global investment summit organised by the Kerala government. A number of new important new measures were announced by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the summit, to promote investment in the state. These included a wage subsidy scheme for new ventures, increasing the financial aid bracket from Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), relaxation of land ceilings for big firms, assignment of job generation responsibilities for local bodies, and more.
The Chief Minister emphasised the need to leverage the massive investment opportunities presented by the favourable conditions in the state, especially in light of the massive economic slowdown plaguing the entire country. He also discussed the various measures taken by the state government to promote global investments and ease the procedure of setting up a business in the state for entrepreneurs. He further stated that he aims to end unemployment in Kerala within the next 10 years and help it become one of the five most investor-friendly states in the country.
To this end, his government is planning to propose the subsidisation of a part of the wage commitment for newly launched industries for the first five years.
He said, “This is a scheme under consideration. I don’t want to go into its details. This benefit will be available only to those units which provide ESI and PF benefits to workers. I also want to say at this stage that women employees will get at least Rs 2,000 more than their men counterparts under the proposed scheme. An estimated 37 lakh people will benefit.”
Yet another important measure is the concession on land ceilings for large firms which invest more than Rs 250 crore, and provide employment to 1,000 people. The Chief Minister said that relevant amendments would also be made in the land legislation act to enable a relaxation of the 15-acre land ceiling, in effect currently.
Other announcements included a lifting of the current ban on women factory workers from being given a night shift, with the employer being made responsible for their safety. A promise was also made for increasing the financial aid from KSIDC for businesses, from Rs 35 crore to Rs 100 crore, with higher amounts also offered in exceptional cases.
With Kerala having the second-highest unemployment rate in the country, the government also plans on assigning specific targets and responsibilities to local bodies such as panchayats, to facilitate the creation of jobs and promotion of industries.
He added, “Though a small state, we have several inherent strengths that make us different, including our natural assets and highly qualified human resource. Now is the time to properly leverage them to bring in substantial investment, which is essential to generate income and employment for the present and future generations.”
MA Yussufali, the chairman and managing director of Lulu Group International, also encouraged the international banking and investor community to fund projects in the state, saying, “The beneficiaries of the investment that they make now will be the future generations of Kerala.”
The summit will be held for two days, during which, around 100 projects from a variety of industries will be on display. These include tourism and hospitality, fisheries, petrochemicals, agro and food processing, infrastructure, and mobility development, among others.