GUWAHATI: It's as clear as daylight that the State Department of Industries and Commerce has failed to 'walk the talk' in industrialization in the past four years. As though to cover up its failure, the department has come with an Ordinance allowing MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) to set up of industries in the State without getting multiple permissions for three years.
Earlier passing the 'Assam Ease of Doing Business Act, 2016', Industries Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said that the entrepreneurs would not face any harassment in getting approval or clearance in the setting up of industries in the State as the streamlined single-window clearance system was set to make the process much easier. After four years, during the meeting of the Council of Ministers on June 29, 2020, the same Minister went on record saying that "after the launch of the 'Ease of Doing Business Portal', 35,000 applications have been received, and even now there are 20,000 backlog applications."
However, the pertinent questions are – what led to the backlog of such a huge number of applications from entrepreneurs? Which department is responsible for such a huge backlog of applications?
The Department of Industries and Commerce being the nodal agency for making the 'Ease of Doing Business Portal' a success, the accusing finger is naturally pointed towards it. Why didn't the department sort out the problems in the past four years?
The note given by the Department to the June 29, 2020 meeting of the Council of Ministers spells it out in no uncertain terms that due to the non-approval or clearance from statutory authorities, the entrepreneurs have been facing a lot of difficulties in getting clearance. Instead of putting their efforts in setting up of industries, they have to go for a whole lot of obstacles for getting approvals and clearances from a number of authorities, leading to delays in implementing projects, the note said.
The note from the department has made it crystal clear that the 'Assam Ease of Doing Business Act, 2016' has failed to serve the purpose. The Department's (Minister's) claim on the 'Ease of Doing Business portal' has come a cropper. The moot poser: Who'll stand guarantee to the claim that the new Ordinance won't come a cropper after three years?
A reality check shows that the number of setting up of the SSI and MSME units across the State has been maintaining a declining trend since 2016-17. While 2,277 such units were set up with an investment of Rs 606 crore in 2016-17, only 1,539 such units were set up with an investment of Rs 475 crore in 2017-18 and 1,123 such units involving only Rs 200 crore in 2018-19. Along with the decline in the number of industrial units, the number of people employed in the industrial sector has also fallen drastically.