Goa lags behind in the IT sector by at least a decade-and-a-half. The government has decided to set things right and is likely to amend the existing policy and come up with a new start-up policy separately. VIKANT SAHAY spoke to various stakeholders in this arena to get the feel of what expectations the IT and start-up community in Goa have from the present government
The recent IT and start-up policy of Goa is barely 18 months old and it is likely to undergo an amendment, much to the relief of IT professionals in the State.
The State government will soon roll out a fresh IT Policy. Works are on in this direction and many of the IT professionals have been engaged to help frame a better policy. It has also been learnt that the government is also coming up with a new Start-up Policy in tune with Union government’s Start-up India policy. If it does, Goa will become the ninth state in the country to have its own Start-up Policy.
President of the newly formed Goa Technology Association (GTA), a body of IT entrepreneurs who create jobs in Goa, Mangirish Salelkar told Herald, “It has been brought to our notice about such a development and we are aware that business heads from the community have been working diligently to frame a concrete policy. The final output is expected to help flourish the ecosystem for new and existing firms to initiate and execute operations respectively from Goa. I am glad that GTA has been launched at the right time to bridge the gap between the industry and government. We have met the IT Minister and he looks very enthusiastic this time. The IT policy which failed to get into effect will probably be re-launched soon.”
Vice president of Open Destination and Managing Committee member of GTA, Milind Anvekar said, “The IT policy should ensure that the existing companies in the State get the required assistance and incentives to expand their operations in the State. Secondly, the policy should attract other IT companies to consider starting operations from Goa and ensure better ecosystem and opportunities are created for qualified Goan youth. It is good to see the determination and efforts of our Chief Minister and IT Minister.”
Mr Anvekar added that as always the IT industry is focused on their respective businesses but things would change under the new leadership. The newly formed association of the IT companies in the State which is GTA will ensure that it shares its views and inputs with the government and work collectively to make Goa a better place for IT business.
Remmie Azavedo, CEO of FabCoders is excited and said that, “I am looking forward to the day the IT policy is implemented specially after the false hope given in the past. From the feedback I have received there has been a series of meetings between the IT minister and various stakeholders from the industry. Such eagerness was not seen from the earlier ministers, that is why I am positive that finally something will happen. The IT industry in Goa is still in the nascent stage and it requires a helping hand from the government to reach its true potential.”
He hoped that the points that were mentioned in the December 2015 IT policy are taken into consideration while amending the policy. “One thing I sincerely hope is that government puts in the same effort to help smaller companies as they will put to attract the big ones like TCS, Infosys etc. Necessary precautions have to be taken that big companies do not swallow up the limited workforce available in Goa,” added Mr Azavedo.
Few years back he had taken a tough decision to quit his cozy job in Europe and return to Goa to start FabCoders. “It has not been an easy ride and that is why I understand the reluctance of more entrepreneurs setting up shop here. Hopefully, with the new amended IT policy enough incentive is given to others to come back to Goa and start up like I did,” said Mr Azavedo and hoped that if the government gives the right help and incentives then Goa can become a serious competition to IT hubs like Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Vice President of the Goa IT Professionals (GITP), Vincent Toscano believes that, “Goa has had paltry IT policies so far with no implementation whatsoever. Given that Goa is lagging by 20 years, we need a bold and visionary IT policy urgently. GITP is glad to notice that the Chief Minister and the IT Minister have begun making some good moves in this direction and we offer our full support to anyone who is committed to creation of high-income modern employment for Goans in Goa.”
As far as the start-up policy is concerned, the State government should set up a committee which could be led by IT Minister and have representatives from the IT wings of industry organisations like GCCI, GSIA, CII and others. Importantly, representation from Directorate of Technical Education, Directorate of Education, Goa University, Department of Science and Technology of Goa, Goa State Innovation Council, DOIT, BITS Goa campus and incubators will be useful to make a comprehensive startup policy for the state.
On of the successful start-ups in Goa, Sevarat’s founder Rohini Gonsalves is of the opinion that Goa has still a long way to go before becoming an enterprise-friendly State. “The definition of start-up itself is not all inclusive and is restricted only to IT and innovation based start-ups. The service Industry (which in fact include Goa’s traditional industries) are completely ignored,” said Ms Gonsalves.
She offered suggestions that few things that should be considered while drafting the start-up policy. (a) Make the start-up policy more inclusive especially to the service industry; (b) Encouragement to businesses that generate employment via easy finance and tax rebates etc should be considered; (c) Easy access and availability of working capital for enterprises that do not have fixed capital requirements; (d) In Infrastructure and development of better ecosystem, public transportation at late evenings and on Sundays must be made available along with better Internet services and cell phone coverage; and (e) Self certification of labour law and other laws governing enterprises.
Read More: Herald Goa