Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Aug 04, 2003
Industry & Economy
Goa has come a long way since Liberation
Panaji , Aug. 3
A CHIEF Minister who is seen walking along the streets without elaborate security paraphernalia, a Minister who reaches the venue of a function before time and does not mind the absence of a reception committee to fawn on him, and a top bureaucrat who asks the industry to pull up its socks and be prepared to participate in the development of the State.
According to popular perception, Goa may just be a great tourist destination and a tippler's paradise, but the attitude of Goans is rapidly transforming the country's smallest State into an industrial haven.
And the State does have an impressive list of testimonials. The National Commission on Population has ranked Goa at number one in terms of quality of life and the Eleventh Finance Commission has put the State at the top slot in the index of social and economic infrastructure. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has ranked Goa as the number one State in terms of overall investment attractiveness.
Goa's success can be largely attributed to an informal culture and commitment of the population to the development of their State.
"Our politicians and bureaucrats do not put on airs because they know it is a small place and they have to periodically face a highly educated electorate. The Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar, is an Indian Institute of Technology graduate and follows a very informal style of work," says Barreto, a `pilot' who ferries passengers on his bike taxi, a peculiar Goan mode of transport.
A senior State Government official, who was trying to impress the World Bank to fund Goa's sewage disposal project, presented certain parameters comparing Goa and Singapore. Goa's literacy rate at 84 per cent is not far behind Singapore's 94 per cent, and the State is trying to cover the gap with a better pupil-teacher ratio at 22:1 to 21:1 for Singapore.
Goa has achieved a 10 per cent annual real growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 1993-2000, while the much larger Singapore has grown at almost the same rate at 9.9 per cent. Singapore is considered to be a very safe city. But Goa beats it hands down with a crime rate of just 192 per one lakh population to Singapore's 704 per lakh population. For every 10,000 people, Goa has 16 doctors while Singapore has 14.
Goa, however, has a lot of catching up to do in key social and economic indicators like per capita GDP ($1,165 vs $37,046 for Singapore), total GDP ($1.6 billion vs Singapore's $152 billion), Crude Birth Rate (17.85 vs 13.7), Crude Death Rate (7.16 vs 4.5) and Infant Mortality Rate (13.99 vs 2.5 in Singapore).
"Our aim is to become a First World State by 2020. We are learning from the experience of Singapore and benchmarking ourselves with the city-State," the official said.
According to State Public Works Department Minister, Mr Ramkrishna Dhavalikar, the State had made all-out efforts to augment infrastructure in a bid to attract industry.
"Apart from offering tax concessions, we have already made sure that Goa has good roads and now the focus is on providing adequate water to all domestic and industrial consumers at a reasonable price. The State has drawn up a three-phase action plan to cater to the growing needs of water and sewage disposal spread over the next 15 years," Mr Dhavalikar told Business Line.
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