Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Sep 17, 2004
Industry & Economy
Kerala CM asks chamber to organise sector-wise roundtable talks
Kochi , Sept. 16
THE Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, has suggested that the CII-Kerala organise sector-wise roundtable discussions with key industrialists, experts and government officials to chalk out definite action plan for each sector.
The sectors identified included tourism, infrastructure, organic agriculture, natural rubber, spices, food processing and biotechnology. The Chief Minister told the CII delegation team that the findings of sector-wise round table could be the base paper for one-year programme to be announced by the Government on November 1.
The Chief Minister also assured the CII delegation that the suggestions put forth by them would be seriously considered and implemented. The CII team led by Mr T.R. Raghulal, Chairman, met the Chief Minister and briefed him on the various policy initiatives required for catapulting growth in the State.
Presenting the economic snapshot of the State, Mr Raghulal said that the service industry contributes to 74.3 per cent of the Net State Domestic Income, whereas agriculture and manufacturing sectors contributes 15.7 per cent and 10.0 per cent respectively. Kerala is the largest producer of rubber, accounting for 92 per cent of the country's produce; pepper accounting for 97 per cent; arecanut accounting for 24.1 per cent and coconut accounting for 45 per cent.
Kerala is the second largest producer accounting for 37 per cent of tapioca in 2001-01. Coir exports have shown a reasonable growth at $ 67.5 million in 2002-03 as against $ 66.3.
It is, therefore, imperative to focus on enhancing competitiveness of Kerala niche sectors, he said.
Mr Jose Dominic, Convenor, Taskforce on Environment and Organic Agriculture mentioned that it is the local enterprises that have catapult the growth of tourism sector in the State. He pointed out that conservation of biodiversity and natural resources should take precedence over any tourism activity. This requires a phenomenal shift in focus and prioritising - land, people, tourist and enterprises - in that order.
Mr Navas M. Meeran, Convenor, Food Processing Panel, mentioned that the woes of agriculture sector could be effaced by promoting organic agriculture. Organic food enjoys reasonable premium in both international and domestic markets and it is necessary to provide complete tax holiday for organic food processing to promote rapid growth of organic agriculture.
This would help in creating effective linkages between processors and organic farmers, he said.
Mr M.T. Antony, Convenor, Economic Affairs Panel, said that the Government should discuss the draft VAT Bill before it is tabled in the Assembly. A recent CII survey on Sales Tax Administration in Kerala pointed out that 98 per cent of the respondents felt that Kerala Commercial Taxes Department is not industry-friendly.
Mr C. Raju, Convenor, Infrastructure and Power Panel said that the State should promote public private partnerships in infrastructure and CII would facilitate this process.
He highlighted that the Government should immediately take up the doubling of Feroke-Shornur and Ernakulam-Mulanthuruthy railway route. In the power sector, the State should take up all mini-hydel projects on war footing with a separate corporation like the one in Karnataka, he said.
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