Thiruvananthapuram: The Pinarai Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front may be keen to position Kerala as an investor-friendly destination, but it is a laggard state as far as business reforms are concerned, based on data on the union government's portal tracking business reforms implemented by states and union territories.
As on Thursday, Kerala's score is 26.73 percent on the website of the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) and its rank was 20, down from the 18 last year.
Andhra and Telangana, newly-carved out states from erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, have emerged as top states clocking 99.09 percent each and relegating last year's topper Gujarat (97.92) in the ranking.
The center is preparing to give a pep talk to the states that need a jump start on the front, according to reports.
Inquiries made at the office of the state industries secretary on the steps the state plans to take did not elicit any response.
In 2015, Kerala was 18th in DIPP rankings, with an implementation percentage of 22.87 percent, based on implementation of a 98-point action plan then.
The portal tracks real-time implementation of the 340-point Business Reform Action Plan circulated by DIPP to all states and union territories in October last year.
The states and union territories were to submit reforms implemented till July 30 this year.
The number of states/union territories tracked by DIPP portal this time is 36 as against the previous year's 32.
The DIPP had identified 10 broad reforms areas for the ranking this time, including construction permit enablers, obtaining electricity connection, online tax return filing, access to information and transparency, and availability of land.
Kerala does not find a place among the top five states in any of these parameters.
The DIPP has categorized the states/UTs into leaders (implementation percentage of 90-100 percent, aspiring leaders (60-90 percent)
acceleration required (30-60 percent) and jump-start needed (0-30 percent). Kerala stays in the last category.
The report assumes significance in the wake of a World Bank Report in which India's rankings on ease of doing business just nudged up one slot to 130 from last year's 131.
The union government is of the view that the World Bank report did not take into account certain vital reform initiatives.
Kerala's laggard status is a setback to the state though the blame cannot be put entirely on the four-month-old LDF government.
But this is definitely an area of concern, considering the fact that the government is yet to appoint a full-time industries minister following the resignation of E.P. Jayarajan over nepotism charges.
The portfolio is now being handled by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and there are no signs of a replacement.