Kerala, hailed for decades on various counts, needs to regain the trust and confidence of entrepreneurs
Hardly two months into office after registering an unprecedented mandate for a second term, the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front Government in Kerala is facing a crisis of the worst kind.There are four million unemployed youth in the State, according to the Kerala Government itself. According to NORKA, a joint venture by Kerala Government and expatriates, 2.5 million persons from West Asia have returned to the State since the outbreak of COVID-19. It is at this time that Kitex Ltd, a Rs 1,000 crore company made it known that it was withdrawing from the MoU it had signed with the Kerala Government to set up an industrial enterprise with an investment of Rs 3,500 crore which would have generated 35,000 jobs. Sabu M Jacob, the chairman of the group, alleged that there were more than 12 raids during the last one month by various departments. His enterprise in Ernakulam employs 11,000 workers and the branded products manufactured in the company are key attractions in internationally reputed supermarkets and malls. Jacob has decided to set up shop in Telangana while the Governments of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra have invited him with offers of subsidised land, power and series of tax concessions.
Kitex is not the first company to leave the shores of Kerala citing unfriendly attitude of the Government. Groups like MRF, Synthite Ltd and V-Guard have left Kerala to neighbouring States because of political interference, demand of protection money and militant trade unionism. Dr Raj Mohan Pillai, Chairman, Beta Group, a leading industrialist, has said that four entrepreneurs in the State committed suicide in the last two years following financial crisis, a fallout of unfriendly policies of the Government. Two young industrialists who returned to the State from West Asia too resorted to the extreme measure. A German automobile giant which had come to Kerala opted for Tamil Nadu because of their apprehensions about the business-friendly nature of the politicians. Jacob says environmental activism and the cartel of politicians and bureaucrats are a curse on God’s Own Country. It is for the Government and the Chief Minister to regain the trust and confidence of entrepreneurs. Turf wars between gold smuggling cartels and “quotation gangs” specialising in contract killing are on the rise in God’s Own Country, more aptly named as Gold’s Own Country by BV Kumar, former chief of Enforcement Directorate