Many "item songs" in Goa Budget

By Prabhakar Timble
27 March 2012 18:31 IST

Manohar Parrikar’s first budget after a fairly long innings in opposition is packed with new announcements and policies. In in one line, I would say that the BJP manifesto has won.  The Finance Minister has attempted to position almost all the commitments enunciated in the manifesto in this single exercise. The only issue which the Finance Minister has left untouched is a statement of the present government on grants to English-medium primary schools. There is no clue to understand whether a budgetary allocation has been made to this effect. There is an enigmatic silence on this. Otherwise this was hotly debated during elections but intelligently put on black burner by the BJP and other sympathisers who had formed new fronts to espouse the cause of regional languages.

Most of the tax and expenditure proposals were expected since they were part of the recently concluded election campaign jingles. There was no option or alternative in respect of near abolition of VAT on petrol. This populist slogan went well with the youth. I do not think their expectation from budget goes beyond cheaper petrol. According to them, Manohar Parrikar has delivered what he promised. Nothing else would make them happy or unhappy. A relief allowance of Rs. 1000/- for housewives where the family annual income is less than Rs. 3 lakhs and token hike in allowance for senior citizens and artists was expected. The announcement of freezing of LPG prices at March 2012 levels and such other populist measures would drain the already starved State exchequer. It would be difficult to ensure that the benefits really go to the needy and within the laid down income parameters knowing the administrative and implementation machinery of the government.

I would single out the focus on agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and animal husbandry as a welcome departure from the past. The growth rate of the primary sector has been negative last year. It is necessary to reverse this trend and the Finance Minister needs to be applauded for attempting to work to make the State self-sufficient in milk and vegetable production within a period of four years. The stepping up of outlay on the “Kamdehnu Scheme” from Rs. 70 lakhs to Rs. 10 crores and the announcement to work on a new agricultural policy for sustainable development of this sector is in the interests of the State economy. This has great potential to generate gainful mass employment and at the same time utilise the natural gifts of the State. The general perception that agriculture can never be remunerative needs to be changed.

Projecting a growth rate of 12 per cent, the Finance Minister has offered a grand package for tourism. There is a promise of putting investors in information technology on fast track. The interest subsidy offered for existing units and for new units in backward areas coupled with measures to restore an investor friendly atmosphere should enable the State to achieve the targeted growth.  Undoubtedly, there was investor tiredness and weariness in Goa. To a large extent this was because of delays, indifference and climate of corruption that pervaded administration and the political executive. Manohar Parrikar has committed to bring good governance and nip in the bud the inefficiency and indiscipline in public administration. His actions have boosted the confidence of industry, trade and business. These are all positive signs for the economy.

The Finance Minister has used the opportunity to explain the road map for improving administrative efficiency. The renovated performance appraisal system for government officers, E-governance through E-tendering and E-procurement and a Public Grievance Redress mechanism, if put in motion will definitely achieve the desired results. To my mind, these are more important than the proposed Lok Ayukta.

There are also announcements which look small but can make big impact. The cluster of bridges to be set up, proposal for a technical university for Goa, the declaration of football as State sports, Kala Mandirs in all talukas, dedicated lanes for bicycles, multi-storey parking in major towns, setting up of minority commission and special package for empowerment of scheduled tribes could be named.

There are many who feel that a budget can bring economic ‘parivartan’. My school of thought tells me something different. Primarily, a budget is an exercise to raise revenue for the annual expenditure of the government. However, budget speeches get the media gaze due to big-ticket policies and schemes and quotes from the ancient scriptures and famous poets. These are like the modern day item songs in films which though have no relation to the story of the film, make the film popular. I hope, Manohar Parrikar proves me wrong.

Postscript: I think Manohar Parrikar has silenced and sealed the lips of the leaders of the opposition and they have taken shelter in the ICU. I was invited for a TV show on a local channel for budget discussions with the Chief Minister and no leader of the opposition came forward to participate. I was literally forced to hold the fort for the opposition to balance the discussions. 

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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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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Previous Comments

I agree with Mario. Football runs in my blood too. Similarly my blood screams for grants to all schools and freedom to choose the medium of education.

- lynsmile, mumbai | 04 th April 2012 14:09


Mr. Mario, please don't mix Football and cricket with Primary Education.

- raj, Goa | 01 st April 2012 14:42


Namaskar Mr. Timble. Your article has made a lot of things more clear to me, and i hope will do the same to others. You have explained a lot of points very well. As you mentioned, i hope as much as you do that the CM proves you wrong on some of the issues you mention. I for one do not expect the CM to work miracles in a few months. Well, if the CM does not prove you wrong, on your views, i advise you to allow yourself and all to dance to the 'item songs' atleast for the moment.

BTW, just to let know there is none in the opposition that will dare to face the CM on intellectual issues. Even In the past they have never been there too, and as usual you will have to hold the fort for them like in the past. I wish the self proclaimed MBA (rane) is reading your articles. In konknni there is a saying which applies to the current bunch of jokers in the opposition --"Tannim sogleamnni tanchi nakam zoroilim zalear legit te thoi pavchennat"

- jaret de silva, overseas/chandor | 30 th March 2012 21:48


Nothing against football!!!! Have grown up playing it!!!

I was just thinking about the aspect of sports like football and cricket, inherited from foreign rulers, vis-a-vis a language used by an ever increasing percentage of Goans, almost every Goan on Facebook, in all Courts, government offices, banks, road signs, etc....

If we can allocate funds for a sport which Goans love, we surely can find a way to allocate funds for primary education of a language needed for almost all secondary and higher studies, public and private jobs, and, in some cases, for basic survival in Goa, leave alone elsewhere....

- Mario de Loyola Furtado, Margao, Goa | 27 th March 2012 19:18


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