KERALA : Kerala is witnessing an unprecedented investment boom in the industrial sector with over one lakh new Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) opening units in the current fiscal, generating thousands of jobs in the southern state, Industries Minister P Rajeev said.
Projecting Kerala as an investment-friendly destination, the minister claimed that as part of the state government's 'Year of Enterprises' initiative, more than 1.24 lakh new MSMEs were set up in Kerala so far in the current financial year, attracting an investment worth over Rs 8,000 crore. ''It is much much higher than the target set by the Industries Department as part of its 'Year of Enterprises' initiative'', Rajeev told PTI in an interview.
Rajeev, who is also a prominent leader of the ruling CPI(M), said the Left government was able to bring in investment to such a large scale by changing the perception that the atmosphere in the state was not conducive for setting up industries.
''We could build confidence among the investors through our actions. We have taken several steps to streamline the policies'', he said.
He said the government, as part of celebrating the current financial year as the 'Year of Enterprises' had entrusted the Directorate of Industries with the task of setting up 1 Lakh MSMEs during 2022-23. ''The response was awesome. Within 245 days we could achieve the target of one lakh MSMEs. It is expected to cross 1.50 lakh by the end of this financial year,'' Rajeev said.
He claimed that more than 2.60 lakh jobs were generated in the MSMEs sector in the current fiscal so far and women constitute over 35 per cent of new entrepreneurs in the key sector.
''This data is available on the website of the Industries department. It is a good achievement,'' the minister said.
He said the state industries department's new model for attracting investments in MSMEs sectors was identified as a best practice by a national conference of chief secretaries convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently.
The minister said anybody can set up an industry in Kerala without licenses upto three years under MSMEs sector. ''But it should not fall under the Red category. After three years...within six months they should obtain licenses which are necessary'', he said. The minister said if it is an investment worth over Rs 50 crores, a composite licence--all licences required from different departments--would be issued within seven days. ''For that, the investor must submit an application alongwith all documents'', he said.
The minister said MSME clinics have been constituted in each and every district to treat the enterprises falling sick due to technical, financial or marketing issues.
''We are also planning to organise fairs at taluk levels exclusively for the products from MSMEs, besides promoting their businesses through E-commerce. We are also formulating a plan for scaling up MSMEs that have got potential to develop as an enterprise with Rs 100 crore turnover annually'', Rajeev said.
The department is conducting a survey to identify 1000 such MSMEs.
Dwelling on the performances of the state run PSUs, the Industries minister said the government's view is that they should be competent and it has adopted master plans for each and every PSU.
He stated that the objective of the state government was to protect the public sector enterprises while the Centre was keen on 'disinvestment policy.' Referring to the take over of the loss-making central government-run erstwhile Hindustan Newsprint Limited (HNL) by the Kerala government, Rajeev said efforts are on to make the paper company to achieve an annual turnover of over Rs 3000 crore.
The company has started manufacturing of newsprint and other paper products and it is expected to reach the break-even point in March this year.
A central public sector undertaking earlier, the 700-acre plant, located at Velloor in Kottayam district, had been defunct since June 2019 and the manufacturing was restarted by the state government last year as part of the revival and restructuring of the facility.
The company was renamed as Kerala Paper Products Limited (KPPL) after the state took over it.
Rajeev said, similarly, it was even ready to take over the units of healthcare major HLL in the state that has been put up for disinvestment, but the Centre's response was negative.
Rajeev said the state government was ready to take over the Kerala-headquartered HLL Life Care's units in the state.
''Thereafter they had started the bidding process. The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) was authorised to participate in the tender proceedings. But the Centre denied the right to participate in the bidding,'' he alleged.
The state was trying to participate in the bidding process only for the companies which are functional in the state of Kerala. ''Taking over its units in other states is not our intention'', Rajeev said. ''Our request to the union government is that...they should give it to us. You should give us an opportunity to participate in the bidding process'', he said.