Delinquency & Indiscipline without remorse

By Prabhakar Timble
25 January 2010 14:03 IST

As if I had nothing better to do, I took up the Goa State budget speech (2009-10) for a scrutiny. Since another sermon is due just two-months ahead, I was making an attempt to test the hypothesis that budget speeches should not be taken seriously. They are forgotten by the Finance Ministry the moment they are delivered. They are drafted to provide catchy headlines to media and some materials to academicians, economists and the Chambers of Commerce to spend a few days on analysis. As I have observed, the "bakwas" commences the moment the budget is presented and within no time the proposals gather dust in the library of the Finance department.

The additional tax proposals enunciated by the Finance Minister expected an additional revenue of Rs. 516.40 crores so as to peg the revenue deficit to Rs. 18.75 crores and the fiscal deficit to Rs. 482.54 crores. However, not a single proposal has seen the light of the day.

The highly debated tax on professionals, trade, callings & employment which was estimated to net in Rs. 65 crores in the first year is a non-starter. The proposed entry toll on vehicles is yet to take birth. All are in the dark about the Land Replenishment cum Green Environment charge from mining industry of Rs. 30/- per ton of reject which was to account for over 70% of the estimated additional tax revenue. What else is this other than the finance ministry's delinquency and indiscipline.

On the policy initiatives side, the Finance Minister almost provided a laundry list. A citizen centric governance. Structural reforms with economy and efficiency as goalposts. Establishment of Staff Administrative College. A Committee of Experts to look into the functioning of major departments to suggest measures for improving functional parameters and performance. Above all, a third party audit of government departments' finances. There is nothing new in these initiatives. These are probably the lines seen in every budget speech, year after year.

Another fashionable trend seen with governments is the appointment of Committees and Task Force to formulate policies. We are told that Agriculture & Horticulture, Higher Education and Mining policies are on the anvil. All such policies come out when the situation is so precarious that there is nothing left to implement. Such policies are akin to the judgements of the Courts which are delivered after litigation of over 25 years, mostly after the death of the petitioner.

I have always maintained that the budget is merely a revenue raising exercise and a drama necessitated in parliamentary democracy to provide constitutional sanctity and licence to government spending. It cannot be a venue for policies and initiatives, though our Finance Ministers are habituated to declare and we all are addicted to applaud.

One such climax in the budget speech is the zero tolerance for any corrupt practice. Looking at the day to day conduct of many bureaucrats, the ministers in toto and the ‘empowered' representatives in local bodies, would it not be better to qualify the response as zero intolerance? Our political leadership has without a shadow of doubt demonstrated to us that we should be accommodative to any nonsense.

Every year the Goa government takes pride in the fact that the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Per Capita Income of the State is much higher than the national average. These statistical results are bound to happen in a small State with a 13 lakhs population. Our population denominator of the entire State is the lowest as compared to a ‘tehsil' of any other State in India.

Though the budget speaks of enunciating a comprehensive policy for infrastructure projects under Public-Private Partnership, we are yet to see any such document. However, we have some PPP projects being used as vehicles to siphon scarce public or community land resources to private capital.

It appears that the only major announcement that is taken forward is the Dona Paula & Vasco sea-link. Probably, it is easier for the government to build a sea-link rather than streamline solid waste management chaos in municipal areas and coastal Panchayats. Probably, there is no charm in inter-linking villages through regular and dependable public transport as compared to linking Dona Paula & Vasco. Probably, the government considers the derailment of basic needs of citizens in the mining super-dominated belt in terms of safe access to public roads and water as just a ‘law & order' problem to be tackled by police and magistrates.

To lift a quote from the Finance Minister's speech----"Future belongs to those unreasonable men who look forward, who are certain about uncertainty and who have ability and confidence to think differently". I belong to the category of a reasonable man looking forward and thinking differently.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Great Sir, after long time i got an opportunity to read your views. Thanks to goanews.com

- Sanjay p Sawant Dessai, Curchorem goa | 06 th February 2010 13:15

 

It appears that the only major announcement that is taken forward is the Dona Paula & Vasco sea-link. Probably, it is easier Revenue source for ??? for the government to build a sea-link rather than streamline solid waste management chaos in municipal areas and coastal Panchayats. Probably, there is no charm in inter-linking villages through regular and dependable public transport : Good Article

- m r samant | 26 th January 2010 15:37

 

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