Goa's economy can't revive with mining ban in force

by IANS |

Panaji, April 26 (IANS) With an alarming decline in Goas economic growth, the state government can no longer afford to sit on the issue of mining ban, a survey revealed.

According to the Economic Survey released by the Directorate of Planning, Statistics and Evaluation, Goa's economy grew by a mere 1.6 per cent in 2020-21.

The coastal state's economy is heavily dependent on manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, and mining. While the first two sectors showed a clear decline during the assessment period, the inflow of both national and foreign tourists was curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey observes that during the pandemic period, the tourism-related businesses came down to almost zero. On the other hand, mining operations have stayed suspended in Goa for more than four years.

"The major chunk of mining related businesses has not been able to switch over or diversify their line in view of bleak changes of buyers for their assets riddled with debts. Alternate business for existing mining assets in other states is not easy to get as there are a lot of challenges posed from local people of respective states," said Ralph De Sousa, President, Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI).

"And for assets like river barges it is more challenging as operations are typical to Goa Logistic system. Also, overall, there is no alternative to the mining business to replace the employment that is lost due to abrupt stoppage of mining operation 4 years ago. There is a hope given that mining is going to start soon so disposing the debt ridden asset gets tricky.

"The financial situation worsens with every passing day with the Goa mining ban continuing with no firm solution but hope of a major decision by the Government to restart mining. The state's businesspersons are witnessing worsening CIBIL rating and at the same time financial institutions are facing rising NPAs.

"The immediate resumption of Goa mining industry can provide relief to the stressed situation in the state," he added.

Goa's consistently rising debt is an alarming concern over the last 10 years. Depending solely on loans and advances would over a period come to haunt the borrower as interest element too augments.

Goa's main economic pillar, mining, continues to lie in suspension for several years which causes not just economic concerns but also causes hardships to those dependent on it. Ease of doing business has been affected and further casts apathy on the industrial sector on how operations, infrastructure, markets, foreign exchange, value addition built up from scratch, entirely by the industry be allowed to deteriorate with time.

The local industry as well as other Apex chambers have repeatedly raised concerns and the desired solutions expected to be taken from the Government.

"Keeping in mind sustainability, mining needs to resume earliest," said Glenn Kalavampara, Secretary, Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA).

According to the Economic Survey, Goa's primary sector accounted for 5.24 per cent of the gross state domestic product GSDP in 2020-21.

Even the secondary sector, which contributed 55 per cent to the state economy, saw a decline, and only the tertiary or services sector was seen bucking the trend with 39.72 per cent contribution.

The state's economic activity at constant prices for 2020-21 is estimated at Rs 53,959.86 crore, as against Rs 53,099.57 crore in 2019-20.

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