Open to discussing issues raised by Kitex group, says Kerala government


Business, Companies

Jacob said he had been doing business in Kerala for the past 53 years

Sabu Jacob, chairman of Kitex group.

Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi: The Kerala government on Friday said it has an "open approach" towards the issues raised by Kitex group, even as the company stuck to its decision to back out from Rs 3,500 crore investment plan in southern state with its chairman Sabu Jacob alleging that he was being "hounded out."

"The government is still open.. issues can be discussed with the investors and take things forward," Industries Minister P Rajeev told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.

He was responding to Jacob's statement that he was not leaving his home state on his own, but was being "hounded out."

Before heading for Hyderabad for holding talks with the Telangana government over his investment plans, Jacob alleged in Kochi today that the Kerala government authorities did not bother to intervene even after his announcement of withdrawal from the multi-crore investment project from the state.

"I'm not going on my own. I'm being hounded out, I am being kicked out.," Jacob told reporters at the Kochi international airport.

He left for Hyderabad in a special private jet sent by the Telangana government where he would stay two days, discussing his investment plans with the authorities there.

Jacob said he was invited by the Telangana government after his group had a discussion with them "at different levels".

Reiterating his allegation that the atmosphere in Kerala was not conducive for launching business, the industrialist said no other investor should face such an experience in the state.

Jacob said he had been doing business in Kerala for the past 53 years.

"If this is the experience of an investor who has created a history and a revolution in the industrial sector in Kerala, then what would be the fate of those who invest a meagre amount of Rs 10,000 or Rs 20,000 for earning their livelihood?" he asked.

Rejecting Jacob's charges, Rajeev said the state has a conducive atmosphere for launching the industries and young investors in various start-ups would tell their better experience with the state government.

"Let the society evaluate.. Ask Startups in Kalamassery. Ask those young fellows", the Minister said, when Jacob's allegation was brought to his notice.

Rajeev reiterated that neither the state government nor any of its departments on its own initiated any enquiry into or inspection of Kitex Garments Ltd.

"If there are complaints, that should be resolved. We are very open", the minister said.

Earlier, the minister had said that all inspections were a result of various complaints to the National Human Rights Commission, Kerala High Court and the authorities -- against the company.

He expressed his displeasure over the open statement of the company against the government's ease of doing business model.

Jacob claimed that not a single Kerala minister telephoned him to enquire about the reasons for his group's withdrawal from investing in the state.

"But chief ministers of nine states telephoned me. Industrialists also called me. Now a private jet has been sent for us", Jacob said and called for a change in the approach of the Kerala government towards industries.

Kitex Garments Ltd had said it has decided to withdraw from the project signed during the "Ascend Global Investors Meet" organised by the state government here in January 2020, alleging that it was difficult for the company to run the existing industrial units in the state.

The industrialist had alleged that various units of Kitex were raided 10 times by officials from various departments during the past one month.