Give 50 per cent jobs to Keralites and get subsidy, draft policy woos IT firms

Sops to bring more IT projects to rural Kerala also feature high on the Information Technology Policy 2023 that aims to transform Kerala into an inclusive knowledge society.

Published: 20th November 2023 09:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th November 2023 09:19 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

KOCHI:  Outlining a way to ensure more jobs for Keralites, the state government’s draft IT policy says investors will get subsidies if they provide 50% jobs to candidates from the state. 

Sops to bring more IT projects to rural Kerala also feature high on the Information Technology Policy 2023 that aims to transform Kerala into an inclusive knowledge society. The target is a 10% share of the country’s IT market in the next five years. 

A unified service-delivery platform
According to the draft policy, the current e-Sevanam portal will give way to a platform that will provide citizens with a single-window system to avail the services of various government departments. The platform, being built by the state IT Mission as part of G2C Track services, will enable citizens to avoid the long-drawn process of visiting the websites of individual departments separately. 

Various sops for private investors, co-developers 
To support co-developers set up facilities within the IT parks, the government will provide various options for phased payment to lease government land. The policy also assays the various options of payment when it comes to leasing land based on the level of investment and employment generated by the investor over a specific period, with the possibility of deferring payment after an initial payment. 

For a micro-investor with an investment between Rs 50 crore and Rs 100 crore, and jobs for 500 persons, the government may provide an option to the investor to pay only 50% land-lease amount upfront. The remaining 50% lease payment can be recouped after a moratorium period of 10 years in three equal annual instalments. But as the size of the investment goes up, the waivers also go grand. The investors who fall under the ultra-mega category (investment of more than Rs 1,000 crore), with projects that will generate 5,000 jobs, will get full exemption over the upfront land-lease amount. 

However, the one important factor that gains all these investors a bonus is the condition that Kerala candidates should be preferred for 50% of the total number of jobs. Special incentives have also been proposed for private land developers and investors. The incentives include capital subsidies, which will be based on investment ranges and locations for new units or expansion of IT/ITeS/BPO units in Kerala.

Incentives for expansion into rural areas
As a part of wooing investors to the rural areas, the IT policy proposes to divide the state’s districts into three categories. The capital subsidy will be disbursed in equal annual instalments over 12 years for districts in category A and over 15 years for districts in categories B and C. Category A comprises Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode. Category B districts are Alappuzha, Kollam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Kannur and Kasaragod while Category C districts are Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Malappuram, Wayanad and Idukki.

Boosting startup ecosystem
The Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy 2023 aims to build on top of the elements of the Startup Policy 2017. The aim is to make the state a hotbed of disruptive ventures and help Kerala get a total of 20,000 startups, create at least two lakh jobs, 10,000 hi-tech jobs in science, technology, engineering, art and maths (STEAM), develop 10 lakh sq ft of incubation space and an inward investment of Rs 10,000 crore.

Wooing non-resident Keralites
The Kerala Startup Mission will encourage the participation of NRKs as founders, co-founders and investors in startups. Help will be sought from NRKs to help startups find customers and set up operations in other geographies as well.

What those in the industry say
The IT Policy 2023 of Kerala government looks at a much larger canvas, that focuses not just on IT but on electronics and space technology, says startup mentor S R Nair.

“Apparently, the government is looking at the IT/electronics/space sector as the saviour for the state for employment generation as well as for social development. Over the past five or six years, we have been hearing from different government agencies about transforming Kerala into a knowledge society, and this policy is conceived to meet that raison d’être,” he said. 

He says that, through the policy initiatives, the government hopes at least five lakh new jobs in the IT and allied sectors will be created in Kerala. According to him, the policy has emanated from a very exhaustive vision. 

“With many government initiatives on infrastructure limping in our cash-strapped state, and with no clear idea on the source of funds, one hopes that the policy doesn’t stay on paper,” he said. 

Ambitious aim

Draft IT policy puts forth the following targets in the next 5 years for the startup ecosystem of the state

  • Reach a total of 20,000 startups
  • Create at least 2,00,000 jobs
  • 10,000 hi-tech jobs in STEAM
  • 10 lakh sq ft of incubation space
  • Inward investments of J10,000 crore

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