Garment major KITEX Managing Director Sabu M Jacob had harsh words for the Kerala government Friday before he flew to Telangana to discuss investment proposals to the tune of Rs 3500 crores over there.
“When I said that I am abandoning investments to the tune of Rs 3500 crores, no one from Kerala approached me. No one called me. But, I received calls from officials including chief ministers and industry ministers from nine states. Today, they (Telangana) have sent a private jet for us. So we must understand how the world has changed, in terms of business, how our neighbouring states have changed. But Kerala is still 50 years behind. The world has changed, technology has changed but Kerala still thinks in traditional ways and we have not changed,” Jacob told reporters at the Cochin airport.
“I am very sad today. No one should think that I am abandoning Kerala. They have kicked me out. I am in pain and have no choice. A businessman needs peace of mind and I don’t have it,” he added.
Without naming anyone directly in the government, Jacob alleged that when he was ‘attacked like an animal’ for close to 45 days, no one helped him. “But forget about me, I can take care of myself. What about small businesses and thousands of young men and women looking for jobs? If we don’t stand together to protect our small businesses and entrepreneurs, we will head towards a major crisis and we will have to shed tears for our future generations,” he said.
When asked if he would reconsider holding discussions with the Kerala government, Jacob replied, “I told you, when I said I was withdrawing investments of Rs 3500 crores, no one turned to me. What should I say to a government that claimed that I have not submitted even a project?”
He claimed that Kerala will soon turn into a land of elderly citizens fending for themselves as youngsters leave the state in droves looking for jobs. If people from Tamil Nadu came to Kerala for jobs in the past, the reverse is happening now, he said.
Jacob’s firm, the largest private-sector employer in Kerala’s industrial sector, has been engaged in a running spat with the state government after a series of inspections and raids on its units. The industries minister said the inspections were conducted following a range of complaints about the functioning of the units, whereas Jacob alleged that they were meant to harass him.
Jacob and his team from KITEX are scheduled to meet Telangana Industries Minister KT Rama Rao in Hyderabad Friday to discuss the Rs 3500-crore worth of investments in the apparel sector. He said he had chosen the state as it stood first in terms of business-friendliness in the country.