Industrial progress alone may not define economic development, but Kerala clocking 1,24,249 enterprises within the first ten months of FY23 is a clear indication of the State’s unprecedented surge in the secondary sector, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Saturday.

“These achievements are, de facto, our reply to forces that keep making concerted efforts to portray Kerala as an anti-industry destination,” Vijayan said after inaugurating the ‘Samrambhaka Mahasangamam’, organised by the Department of Industries and Commerce to further promote businesses by giving practical help and advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the State.

The Government has been finding results in its tenacious efforts to carry out comprehensive and steady economic measures for all-round development to the benefit of the common people, he said.

“We faced criticisms of being ‘over-ambitious’ when we set a target of generating one lakh industries during 2022-23 but succeeded in surpassing the target in the first eight months of the ‘Year of Enterprises’ project,” he said.

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Noting that local self-governments have a central role in implementing such mass entrepreneurship ventures, the Chief Minister suggested the need for at least one business coming up in each such administrative body at the grassroots.

“The government has been according high priority to encouraging start-ups, facilitating the start of 3,800 such companies in the past six months, and generating 40,000 jobs. The ventures got funds totalling ₹5,000 crore, including State funds,” he said. “No wonder, Kerala became South Asia’s biggest start-up innovation hub. Also, we topped the Affordable Talent rankings in Asia, while finishing fourth at the global level.”

Downplaying allegations about the volume of public debt facing Kerala, Vijayan said the Centre’s financial burden in this respect was as high as 59 per cent of the gross domestic product, when the State’s was 37 per cent of its GDP.

The Industries Minister P. Rajeeve described the ‘Samrambhaka Mahasangamam’ as the start of Kerala figuring in the country’s first ten industry-friendly states. Initiating the ‘Year of Enterprises’ project, the Government made coordinated efforts from the grassroots by involving 450 local bodies and hosting 15 meetings while also taking into confidence the trade unions.

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“Within 245 days now, we got 1,24,249 enterprises registered till date. This translates into an investment totalling ₹7,533.12 crore. A number of 2,67,823 jobs were generated, of whom 38 per cent had gone to women. There are nine from the transgender community, too,” he revealed. “Any prospective business venture with ₹50 lakh investment will get approval in just five minutes once all necessary documents are submitted online. A penalty will be imposed on errant officers.”

The Government is currently busy with opening e-commerce platforms for Made-in-Kerala products. These will be ready by April, with the start of FY24, he said.

Revenue Minister K. Rajan said the Government will continue with its focus on common people while charting out maps for the State’s economic development.