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Kerala on developmental fast track: CM

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Ayurveda, tourism and information technology, besides the traditional exports of cashew and coir, are some of the core strength areas that the State can leverage to carve a place for itself in the globalised economy, say experts.

Thiruvananthapuram , April 20

WITH a host of positive features on its side, Kerala is on the threshold of rapid economic development, according to the Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy.

Inaugurating the `Global interaction series for development of Kerala', organised by Kinfra, he said that with its strategic location, worldwide connectivity, rich resources, highly skilled manpower, low operating cost, and pro-enterprise incentives, the State had become one of the better investment destinations in the world.

"Kerala offers unparalleled attraction as a base for doing business and to cater to the booming global markets. Recent national and international economic developments have pointed to a new era of growth and opportunities for companies operating in Kerala."

The rising costs in the Far East and other world markets had also further highlighted the State as a good choice for both commercial and industrial entrepreneurs, the Chief Minister said.

The Industries Minister, Mr V.K. Ibrahim Kunju, said that IT, tourism, ayurveda, biotechnology, and food processing would play a critical role in deciding the future course of the State's development.

The US experience showed that as the application of IT spreads and encompasses traditional industries, it can generate new employment opportunities 10 times greater in numbers than those directly involved in core IT industries.

Dr Bhaskar Balakrishnan, Ambassador to Cuba, said that the State could exploit its potential in conventional areas of economic activity, especially in export of goods and medical services.

This requires a careful review of the business environment, removal of negative factors, and highlighting of positive attributes.

He said that the case of West Bengal was striking. "From a chronic power-deficit State, beset with labour unrest and perceived hostility towards business, West Bengal today is surplus in power and there is considerable business and construction activity. It is also making an all-out effort to expand its IT sector."

He added that it was important for Kerala to plan ahead, reform and revitalise its higher education, and create new high-quality educational capacity in knowledge-intensive areas such as management, engineering, IT, biotechnology, and finance.

UNI adds: Ayurveda, tourism and information technology, besides the traditional exports of cashew and coir, are some of the core strength areas that the State can leverage to carve a place for itself in the globalised economy, experts say.

Expressing confidence that the State's economy, which had grown at over six per cent in the 2000s, compared to a mere 1.2 per cent in the 1980s, ``was on the march'', economist Dr Parthasarthy Shome, Advisor to the Union Finance Minister, said Kerala needed to link its industrial and infrastructure investments to its core strength areas.

Addressing the first session of the `Global Interaction Series for Development of Kerala' here earlier this week, Dr Shome noted that during the 2000s, the services sector in Kerala had grown at about nine per cent, which was slightly higher than the national average.

``Kerala then has to see how it can leverage its industrial and services sector to register higher economic growth,'' he added.

Identifying ayurveda, tourism, information technology, biotechnology and its traditional export areas such as coir and cashew as the areas of strength, Dr Shome said Kerala should focus on developing its infrastructure and human skills to global standards in these areas to carve a place for itself in the world economy.

Among others present at the function, attended by senior State bureaucrats and policy makers, were the Principal Secretary, Industries, Mr T. Balakrishnan, and the Kinfra Managing Director, Dr G.C. Gopala Pillai.

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