REJIGGING GOA: Reboot to revive

Reboot, revive, reconnect. All participants were unanimous in their views that Goa must rejig. And that urgency must come from all stakeholders and in the form of dialogue and a problem-solving approach.

Local community production at village level was crucial. Senior bureaucrat Sanjit Rodrigues gave examples of brooms locally made in Goa with no design intervention and assistance that were subject to wear and tear. And for that reason people were opting to go for plastic products. But with minor interventions in design and better materials, the life of the locally made brooms could be extended. This sort of intervention could be extended to market produce as well. But farmers and producers were reticent because of lack of price support. According to Rodrigues, “Just like we have Power Purchase Agreement in energy why cannot we have Produce Purchase Agreement in agriculture?”. Public transport hierarchy cannot be avoided. He suggested the urgent need for a massive bus transit system and then feeder services like bicycles, autos into smaller areas. Further he urged the ideasforgoa.com platform to take up the issue of helping the government with its road map and channelize the energies of the Goan citizens.

Shekhar Sardessai, MD of Kineco Group stressed the urgent need for policy stability. He called the Goan economy an ‘accidental economy’ and the need to change this to a ‘deliberate economy’. Unstable policy with frequent and unnecessary changes did not assure entrepreneurs and gave rise to ad hocism and policy bottlenecks. He urged policy makers to change this urgently and was confident that entrepreneurs and private enterprises will be able to act swiftly in response. He also cited the examples of nomenclature and actual functioning of GIDC and GEDC having strayed very far from their original mandate and having become landlords and lenders! “We must have policy stability and predictability.”

Architect Dean D’Cruz was emphatic about the need to reboot the Goa economy with broad policy changes at many levels. He emphasized the need to look at the soft infrastructure of our soil, water, environment rather than always looking at the ‘built infrastructure’ of roads, bridges, buildings etc. He urged policy makers to look at the example of Costa Rica which had an economy very similar to Goa’s. “Migrant labour coming back can also be quite skilled and can be productively utilised” he said. He also suggested the creation of local village community centers which can act as hubs for education, health care, marketing of ;local produce etc.

Jose Noronha, who has held several important positions in important state institutions including the Goa Public Service Commission said that Goa’s innovation is quite interesting. With over 200 start-ups working out of network of incubators and accelerator programs, Goa has proven to be a good hub for starting and innovating but not for scaling up. The IDCs are saturated and no fresh land allocations are forthcoming. For scaling up, Goa’s start-ups need to migrate to bigger cities. This is a major issue. So much skilled manpower is coming back – engineers, doctors and the like. He said “Can we not become a hub for healthcare technology start ups?”

The moderator Dr Urvashi Aneja said, “We are delighted to partner with this super initiative and happy and eager to support the ideasforgoa team and/or government for any projects that come out of it with our research and capacity building capabilities.” [H]