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Address of Mr. Laxmikant Parsekar,Hon'ble Chief Minister, Goa
At the Plenary Session of State Chief Ministers 13th Edition
of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention 2015.
Mahatma Mandir, Gandhinagar, Gujarat on 9th January 2015

Hon'ble Union Ministers and Chief Ministers,
Hon'ble Ministers of State, Distinguished Invitees,
Dear brothers, sisters and other members of the extended Indian family across the world,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

Let me, at the outset, welcome you all to your homeland and wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2015!

Your homecoming this year for the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas commemorates a very significant event, that is, 100 years of the "Return of the Mahatma", who not only led a very unique struggle for a nations freedom, previously un-witnessed in history, but continues to inspire all Indians in thoughts and deeds.

Friends,
I am glad to see that you have travelled long distances to join the family reunion to celebrate "Apna Bharat - Apna Gaurav", to strengthen family bonds based on our shared values of compassion, truth, non-violence and belief in vishwa kutumbakam. Here, I would like to say that the Indian Diaspora is indeed very special and has made all of us immensely proud. You have succeeded spectacularly in your chosen professions, often in the face of extreme hardships.

Those of us at home, acknowledge with pride what the Indian Diaspora has given to the world and thus acquired an enviable reputation for technological skills, educational excellence, honest hard work, innovative start-ups, successful businesses, ground breaking research leading to Noble prizes and countless distinguished contributions in diverse fields such as health, education, energy, environment, politics, research and literature.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have met scores of extremely successful people over the past two days and appreciate the opportunity to address the esteemed delegates at the Plenary Session on Investment Opportunities in States.

It is my privilege to invite you to Goa, a state on the move, on behalf of the people and Government of Goa, and see for yourself the advantages that working together can bring for all of us.

I am happy to state that we have been adjudged to be the most competitive state for business in India and I would like to credit our enlightened and talented human resources, huge natural resources, progressive policies, pollution free environment, captivating scenic beauty and salubrious year-round climate for this achievement.

We have indeed come a long way since our liberation from the Portuguese colonial rule in December 1961 and being deprived of the initial fruits of national development, having joined the national mainstream, 14 years after India's independence.

Ever since becoming a full-fledged state in 1987, the State Government, with the active support and assistance of the Central Government, has seen unprecedented growth and development.

In fact, Goa's Per Capita Income is now amongst the highest in the country and our Human Development Indicators including literacy, education, maternal and infant mortality, and life expectancy at birth are more impressive vis--vis other States and much ahead of the national average.

Yet, in order to achieve still higher GDP and further improve our quality of life, we are laying ever greater emphasis on "Sabka Saath - Sabka Vikas" so as to ensure that the fruits of development fully percolate down to the to the less privileged and vulnerable sections of the society.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In order to specifically engage with all of you, particularly, the Goan Diaspora across the globe, in further strengthening our emotional, cultural and economic bonds, the State Government established an exclusive NRI Cell as a separate entity in 2006. This Cell is now headed by the Commissioner for NRI Affairs, my dear friend, Dr. Wilfred Menezes Mesquita, who has been accorded the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister.

Through this platform, we have been regularly interacting with the overseas Goans on a sustained basis to identify areas of mutual concern by formulating appropriate policies and programmes and also recognizing and celebrating their achievements.

You would be interested to know that a website www.nri.goa.gov.in was launched in April 2013, to highlight government policies and programmes and provide information for the benefit of Goans settled in other parts of the country as well as abroad.

We have taken steps to protect the property rights of Non Resident Goans and PIOs of Goan origin and for timely redressal of their grievances. You can get in touch with our NRI Cell for further details, including amendments in relevant statutes.

Another catalyst for economic and industrial growth in Goa, the Economic Development Corporation, has also formulated a special scheme for Non Resident Goans (NRGs), under which loan assistance is provided for acquiring fixed assets like land, building and plant and machinery, for new micro, small, medium and large enterprises or for expansion, modernization and diversification of the existing industrial concerns, as well as in the Services Sector

I am also pleased to inform that we have formulated a 'KNOW GOA PROGRAMME' (KGP) since 2008 for the benefit of Goan Diaspora Youth who are not Indian Nationals and have had no opportunities to discover Goa and India, our glorious past, exciting present and promising future.

Under this Programme, we are annually sponsoring a 15-day visit to Goa, Delhi and Agra for the Goan Diaspora Youths, in the age group of 18-28 years and I would like to thank the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs for supporting us by sponsoring visits to Delhi and Agra.

Friends,
As some of you may be aware, we received a tremendous setback in 2012 with the imposition of a blanket ban on extraction and transportation of mining ore in the State.

However, we have managed to strike a balance between our development needs and environmental concerns for sustained growth of our economy. We have taken necessary steps to recommence the mining activity in the state and would like to gain from some of your expertise and knowledge in this area.

Also, in order to diversify our economy to reduce dependence on sectors of mining and tourism, we took a conscious decision to adopt the "Goa Investment Policy 2014" under which the "Goa Investment Promotion Board" has been set up and we look forward to dovetail our efforts with the "Make in India" campaign in a big way.

The Board is meant to provide assistance and facilitate required approvals from State Government for your business ventures and make the process of investment simple, quick and purposeful through a transparent Investor - Government interface.

We have identified thrust areas for encouraging investment proposals in the State, which include the following:
Knowledge based industry, R&D Centers and Financial Services
Pharmaceuticals & Bio-technology
Integrated Educational Hubs
Tourism
Light Engineering
Aviation, Aerospace and Defense
Information Technology (IT) Hardware and Electronics and
Agro-based and Food Processing Industries.
We would particularly look forward to investments proposals in the infrastructure areas of power, transport, water and waste disposal.

Here, I would like to mention that we took an early initiative in the area of connectivity by setting up the Goa Broad Band Network (GBBN) infrastructure, which is a completely Fiber based State Wide Area Network connecting all the Government offices as well as delivering Broadband services to Citizenry, Industry and Service Enterprises.

This gives us a head start to be part of the Digital India initiative and providing a conducive set up for our thrust area of knowledge based industries.

Today GBBN has become truly the Info High-Way for Goa and has propelled us to become the number one State in the country in realizing the National eGov plan (NeGP), with the state capital Panaji connected to both District HQs, the Taluka HQs and all the 189 Village Panchayats and 14 Municipalities.

We have nominated the Industries Department to maintain liaison with the Ministry of External Affairs for investment and trade opportunities and queries and act as the nodal point specifically to deal with NRIs who are keen to invest in eco - friendly projects in Goa having potential of generating employment opportunities.

Dear Delegates,
Here I would like to mention that in addition to the existing international airport in Goa, we are undertaking construction of a Greenfield International Airport at Mopa in the State on PPP basis at an estimated cost of Rs. 3,000 crores. The Construction work of the Airport will begin by December 2015 and the first phase of the Airport is expected to be commissioned by December 2018.

This new airport in North Goa will have provisions for cargo facilities, aviation training institute and maintenance & repair operations. Further, as per the State Civil Aviation Policy, we also intend to create an international aircraft hub at the existing Dabolim International Airport in South Goa by incentivizing hub operators.

We would also be encouraging new tourism and aviation avenues like sea plane and helicopter services and look forward to your interest in these areas.

Friends,
My talk would be incomplete without mentioning tourism, which has seen Goa evolve as a strong international brand in its own right.

The tourism master plan being prepared by us intends to show case our natural assets of the state and developing initiatives in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner to highlight Goa's rich culture, history and heritage besides our beaches.

Due to our rich cultural diversity, we have year-round festivals, which can be experienced by our guests. And the experience becomes all the more enjoyable because of the agreeable weather in all seasons. To the traditional festivals, we have added many new ones such as the festival of ideas, music, dance and films.

I am happy to inform you that Goa is now the permanent venue of the International Film Festival of India and we are building a befitting international convention centre at Panaji to host our festivals.

In addition to our guests from Russia, UK, Germany, Kazakhstand, Israel and Scandinavian countries, we would like to tap new potential tourist markets like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, USA, China, Canada and UAE. Here, I reiterate what our Hon'ble Prime Minister has said and invite all of you to partner with us by extending an invitation on our behalf to at least five of your contemporary country men and women, to come and experience unforgettable Goa.

We are very focused on providing a clean and safe environment and have launched the 'Clean Goa, Beautiful Goa' campaign as part of the "Swachh Bharat Abhiyan" aimed at a comprehensive beach cleanliness management system, including regular garbage collection, clean toilets, changing rooms, shower and cloak facilities in at least 30 beaches of Goa. We are one of the first states to provide Lifeguard services on all our beaches and have recently launched an exclusive Women Taxi service in October, 2014.

Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I conclude, I would like to emphasize that ever since the people of this great nation have reposed their unambiguous faith in the visionary leadership of the Hon'ble Prime Minister, there is immense hope and vigour in the entire country to rapidly accelerate the national development agenda.

Already, in a short span of six months, there has been a remarkable upswing and, consequently, a sea change in people's perceptions and attitudes towards our development efforts, both at home and abroad.

I am, therefore, greatly indebted to Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Hon'ble Union Minister of External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs as also Smt. Anandiben Patel, Hon'ble Chief Minister of Gujarat, the partner state of PBD, 2015 for inviting me to address this remarkable audience comprising of eminently successful, brilliant and energetic industry and trade leaders. I look forward to working together with you to realize Hon'ble Prime Minister's vision of rapid economic development of our great nation.

I once again invite all of you and, through you, those in your adopted countries who are interested in investing in Goa to come and explore avenues of mutual interest. While Commissioner, NRI Affairs and Director, NRI Cell would be happy to give any further information, let me assure all of you of my state's full commitment and support to creating the transformed India.

In the end, I thank the Hon'ble Chief Minister and people of Gujarat for the excellent arrangements made for this hugely successful event and for their warmth and tremendous hospitality.

I am sure all of us go back as friends and admirers of Gujarat and I take this opportunity to request the people of Gujarat and all the Pravasi Bharatiya Nagriks to make it a point to visit our beautiful State and enjoy the Goan hospitality.

Jai Hind!