“We have already launched a ‘Government at Your Doorstep’ (Sarkar Tumchya Dari) program, following which all government services will be available at the people’s doorstep.”
In an interaction with Dr. Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor in Chief BW Businessworld and Exhange4media, the Goa Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant speaks about the 60th year of Goa’s independence, massive strides the state is making in the start-up space, inclusive development, and self-dependency.
Dr Batra: What keeps you going from early morning to late evening at work?
Pramod Sawant: The work I do is for my state and country, and I have no qualms working from morning till evening. I work tirelessly for 16 to 18 hours every day, and I do it willingly.
Dr Batra: It is 60th year of Goa’s formation, what is your plan for the state henceforth?
Pramod Sawant: Just like we are celebrating India with ‘Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav’, we are celebrating Goa At 60 in the state from 19th December 2020 onwards, with the Prime Minister also present at the inauguration. We had multiple plans within and outside the state, however, we were not able to execute fully given the pandemic situation the nation was engulfed with. However, we have a multitude of programs for the upcoming two months. There will be a minimum of 60 programs in the state alone, with additional across the country. We have already launched a ‘Government at Your Doorstep’ (Sarkar Tumchya Dari) program, following which all government services will be available at the people’s doorstep.
Dr Batra: How is Goa going to become complementary to the innovation hub in Bangalore and elsewhere in the country?
Pramod Sawant: We have revised the start-up policy recently in the cabinet of Goa, making it even more attractive for investors and those who wish to start-up. We recently held a conclave to attract investors for the talent pool across the technical colleges in Goa. To further promote Goa as a knowledge hub, we have passed The Private University Bill in the state. We have started National Forensic Science University in consultation with the Home Ministry. International School of Law is coming to Goa, which will accelerate the state’s journey as a knowledge hub.
Dr Batra: The progress has been a little slow in Goa’s transition to a IT hub, despite having 500 IT companies out of Goa. How do you plan to accelerate the same?
Pramod Sawant: We have developed incubation centres in collaboration with NITI Ayog. To further facilitate this, we have DJ-GIFT scheme which will reduce the fees by 50%. This will help in attracting talent to the technical field.
Dr Batra: Covid second wave took the whole India by surprise and there might be a third wave. What are your plans to deal with the Covid wave, but also promote health tourism, telemedicine and the like?
Pramod Sawant: We had developed the requisite infrastructure for the state during the second wave. We provided free of cost treatment even in private hospitals via our Deen Dayal Swasthya Sewa Scheme, and Goa us the only state to do so. Whether it is LMO (liquid Medical Tank) or an Oxygen generation plant, we have it available across super speciality hospitals or district hospitals. We will be starting telemedicine shortly which will benefit people across the state. We are trying our best to provide the best of the best facilities to the people of Goa.
Dr Batra: People see you as an educated, progressive, and polite but astute politician. People have high hopes from you. How would you prioritise the list of tasks to achieve?
Pramod Sawant: I prioritise two things, infrastructure and human development. I work to reach the last person in the community, be it for minor infrastructure or major infrastructure. Just like the central government has launched Atmanirbhar Bharat Scheme, similarly the government of Goa has initiated the Swayampurna Goa, or self-reliant Goa scheme. Across every village in Goa, a government servant is going every Saturday and working for the people.
Dr Batra: Given that infrastructure is fast developing in Goa, how will you use this to further the cause of Goan people, to create more employment and more opportunities.
Pramod Sawant: Whether it is Mopa International Airport, or connectivity from North Go to South Goa, all of these facilities will help the tourism industry flourish. We try to make the best infrastructure available to everyone be it across the beaches or otherwise. Not only will it promote tourism but also investment in the state.
Dr Batra: Mining over the last few years has not been functional. With the Supreme Court’s directed ban on mining, the old mine leases have expired or been suspended. Will we find a solution to the mining embargo if your government comes back?
Pramod Sawant: Since my government has come back to power, we have already formed the mining corporation. We are beginning our leasing out activities in this tenure itself, along with figuring out multiple ways to boom the mining activities in the state while providing economic development to its people. I come from the mining belt myself and realise how important it is for people to start mining. In line with the Supreme Court guidelines, we will start mining activities in these three months. Following this we are starting and encouraging various activities.
Dr Batra: What is your vision for Goa when you come back as the Chief Minister of Goa fter the election?
Pramod Sawant: I cannot say who will come and who will win in 2022 election. But I can say for sure that by 2022 the BJP government will come under our present prime minister’s leadership. In line with Atmanirbhar Bharat we are promoting the tourism industry which is our primary industry. Be it the Blue Revolution, Green Revolution, or White Revolution, we are promoting all of it in the state. We are encouraging pisciculture, including exports by collaborating with the government of India. When I talk about the Green Revolution, we are domestically producing the agriculture products we were earlier importing. We were earlier importing milk from other states is being encouraged to produce domestically. Whichever industry it is, be it agriculture, or youth, or women, we are trying to promote growth in all these departments inclusively.
Additionally, we are encouraging IT, education, and the marine industry which is eco friendly as well. My vision is to promote non polluting industries, and the people of Goa are aware that Goa at 60 is the first time we have promoted self-reliant/ Swayampoorna Goa.
Dr Batra: What is your ask from people of Goa, particularly entrepreneurs and businessmen? In the second wave of Covid, SMEs were negatively impacted, in light of this what would you desire from the affluent businessmen in Goa?
Pramod Sawant: We helped SMEs in every way we could even during the covid case. I would only request the affluent industrialists to employ the people of Goa in their enterprises. Whatever benefits were there for MSME under Atmanirbhar Bharat we passed it on to the local enterprises via collaboration with local bankers. Just like Atmanirbhar Bharat the concept of Make In India must also be encouraged by the central government. It is required that the skilled manpower in Goa is utilised, for which we can help large number of people via apprenticeship. I would also like to add that we have disbursed 500 crores in relief to the MSMEs during this pandemic. We are the first state to use the RSL platform and build a discounting system in the state so that the flow of economy happens seamlessly in the state of Goa.