Sardinha's 'dream' of 8 % growth rate

| 16 March 2000 17:50 IST

Tall claims, as usual, are made by yet another government in Goa to achieve annual growth of over eight per cent in the ninth plan through private-public partnership. The ground realities however are being sidelined.

Chief minister Francisco Sardinha, the second chief minister in just nine months, has put forth ambitious plans at the first meeting of the reconstituted planning board to achieve the target, through private investment in developmental works.

"The state could achieve only 39 per cent of the progress out of Rs 1500 crore fixed by the planning commission due to implementation of the fifth pay commission. However, we are augmenting the resources through loans from financial institutions and efforts are being made to curtail government expenditure and improve revenue collection", says Sardinha.

The target appears overambitious in such a background since Goa could not cross the figure of 6.5 per cent growth rate in the whole decade of 90s. It almost came down to 5.8 per cent last year with no private investment coming in due to all sorts of infrastructural hurdles.

In fact some of the major developmental projects he cited at the planning board meeting are more of the nature of 'damage control' as the existing ones have become redundant within a decade or two. The Selaulim water pipeline in South Goa or the Zuari bridge are actually the parallel ones to the existing ones, which are beyond repairs.

The power policy has been changing with every new government, twelve in last ten years. Sardinha now once again talks of privatisation of power transmission and distribution while his power minister has already ruled out any private investment in the power sector.

There was no response received in the past for the global tenders floated for the superhighway across the state, though Sardinha still plays the same music. Though the tourist state badly needs even a civilian airport and international convention centre, selection of the sites itself is taking too long, keep aside making any headway in this regard.

The chief minister still prefers to list them all as major developmental works with private investment, in order to achieve the target of eight per cent growth rate. Experts in the planning department however reveal that it would need minimum investment of Rs 1000 crore, which appears next to impossible.

To begin the work in this direction, Sardinha has however now constituted two sub-committees, one headed by Goa University vice chancellor Dr B S Sonde on education including information technology while Alban Couto, former advisor to governor during President's Rule here, is heading a committee on infrastructure, administrative reforms, agriculture, industries, health and tourism.

Emphasising upon qualitative education, Sardinha has now even floated the idea to stop funding upto higher secondary education but restrict it to only primary education. The proposal however is yet to be debated in the academic circles here.

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