Kerala’s Industrial Backwardness

The Economic Review 2010 mentions that 32 out of 37 PSUs under the Industries Dept. are now making profits. Excellent! But can we compare these profits with the business performance of the private sector? “What a ridiculous suggestion!” our red comrades would say. In their opinion the public sector need not make any profits at all. In the very first chapter of the Economic Review 2010 it is stated that, “The State has shown that, with commitment, the public sector can be made to perform successfully even by conventional standards, such as profitability (though these are not necessarily the standards by which the public sector should in principle be judged.)” Let us take a look at the actuals:

Profit/Loss of PSUs under the Ministry of Industries (2009-2010)

1. KMML (Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd.) , Chavara, Kollam Dist.: 90.10 crores
2. Malabar Cements, Walayar, Palakkad District: 31.06 crores
3. KSIDC (Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation), Trivandrum: 24.50 crores
4. Transformers & Electrical Kerala ltd. (TELK), Angamaly, Ernakulam Dist.:23.11 crores
5. Travancore Titanium Products (TTP), Trivandrum: 21.21 crores
6. Kerala St. Electronics Development Corporation (KSEDC), Trivandrum: 11.00 crores
7. Alleppey Cooperative Spinning Mills, Alleppey District: 10.15 crores

The seven units mentioned above are earning profits above 10 crores. There are only 3 units making profits between 5 and 10 crores, and 4 units earning between 1 and 5 crores. That makes a total of 14 units. What about the others? Well, 18 units are making profits below 1 crore rupees. Some of their names may shock you: Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals (27 lakhs), Kerala Automobiles (2 lakhs) and Travancore Cements (3 lakhs). Come on folks, who are we kidding? Everywhere in the world these industries are flourishing. Then what ails Kerala?

The total profit made by these 37 companies in 2009-2010 was Rs.239.75 crores. (Contrast this with the Rs.2853 crores of foreign exchange earned by the tourism industry.) In the Budget for 2009-2010, an amount of Rs. 50 crore was earmarked for the rejuvenation and revival of viable PSUs. I wonder what is the LDF Government’s definition of viability. Making a profit of 2 lakhs per annum?

I am reminded of the saying, “Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”


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