New registered enterprises remain on paper mostly, but come in handy for govt publicity

The data on the Industries Department website listing the investments and job opportunities created last year in the State is apparently not credible. File Photo: Manorama

Kochi: Something is amiss about the data on new small enterprises that are believed to have come up in Kerala. The data on the Industries Department website listing the investments and job opportunities created last year in the State is apparently not credible. This doubt arises amid charges that the State exaggerated the list by including even small makeshift shops or even those which were closed down.

A cursory check on the dedicated website revealed odd changes. The number of registrations for small enterprises was 1,33,890 at 4 pm yesterday. The total investment was Rs 8,097.8 crore and job opportunities were 2,87,671.

But the estimates changed by 7.30 pm. The small enterprises' registration became 1,33,899 and investment Rs 8,098.6 crore and job opportunities 2,87,688. Nine more enterprises, Rs 80 lakh in investment and 17 new job opportunities in three-and-a-half hours!

Strangely, there was no concomitant rise in the number of jobs created by the new ventures. The website showed a mere rise of 17 jobs, i.e. the nine new enterprises could not provide two jobs at least.

According to another set of data on the investment website, 5,162 new enterprises were begun in 10 days, starting from January 8 to 18. Over 500 new enterprises a day! The increase in investment is Rs 303 crore!

Why this anomaly?

The State's list may have included the amount of investment and employment opportunities detailed in the project report or the Centre's "Udyam" portal. Except for a few enterprises, none of the rest has become a reality.

All those who have investments in the country and those who begin new enterprises must register themselves on the Udyam portal of the Central government for obtaining subsidies, loans and tax concessions. Only the Aadhaar number is needed for the purpose and it is not mandatory that an enterprise should be started.

The Industries Directorates of States have permission to collect data from this portal.

There are also other ways to exaggerate the number of registrations. It is alleged that the "interns" posted in panchayats by paying Rs 20,000 as compensation have been forcing small shopkeepers and others who have not registered themselves on the portal to do so in the garb of new entrepreneurs in order to meet the targets fixed for them.

Even establishments that have been functioning for even half a century have become new enterprises this way. None of these has received any financial aid from government schemes. The details of the enterprises have not been released officially either.

As reported earlier in Thrissur, shops that were closed down have also been included in the list of new enterprises. In addition, the list was exaggerated by adding applications for enterprises that were later withdrawn. The list also includes shops and establishments that have been functioning for decades. A homoeopathic clinic functioning for the past 60 years and a fast food centre operating for 8 years are reportedly listed as new enterprises.

As this fudging came to light the Opposition ridiculed the Kerala Government's claim of creating over 2 lakh jobs with the opening of over 1 lakh Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in just one year, which was dubbed the Year of Investment.  

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