Goa plans a white paper on eco-health

| 08 July 1999 11:46 IST

Caught up in a deep debt trap, Goa is now planning to come out with a white paper on financial condition of the tourist state and take all sorts of remedial measures to improve its financial health.

"Additional resource mobilisation and cutting down government expenditure are two immediate measures I would take to run the state", announced chief minister Luizinho Faleiro in the state Assembly today, while presenting the annual budget.

With minor alteration, he presented the same tax-free budget that was presented in the Parliament during the brief spell of the President’s rule. He is however yet to decide whether to declare taxation measures by end of the month-long session that began on Wednesday or later.

A major change in the fund allocation proposed by governor J F R Jacob earlier is a subsidy of Rs 1.10 core being sanctioned to 110 trawler owners in the fishing sector, thanks of fisheries minister Churchill Alemao, who represents the mechanised fishermen’s lobby.

Faleiro admits that the financial situation is really frightening since 50 per cent of the budget is spent only to pay salaries and pension of past and present government employees, even by borrowing money. Even other borrowings are made only to pay part-payment of interest on loans, leave aside the principal amount.

The figures he presented in the House were actually alarming as the committed, unavoidable and time-bound expenditure ultimately leaves only 15 paise out of a rupee for any kind of developmental works. With every 28 Goan being a government servant, implementation of fifth pay commission has washed out the state treasury while its loan component is also compiling every year.

Goa, on the other hand, has no other option than diverting its focus from mining to tourism to sustain the state, as iron ore is getting scarce day by day. What he proposes however is to make the state into a ‘low volume high spending’ destination, but not knowing how he would build the quality infrastructure it needs to attract ‘quality tourists’.

The Gadgil-Mukherjee formula has also brought down amount of central allocation from Rs 120 crore to mere Rs 58 crore, a reduction of over 50 per cent within a decade, while the debt has mounted up to Rs 180 crore. Faleiro hopes the planning commission would make some arrangements for devolution of funds to the smaller states like Goa.

While Goa’s revenue earnings in terms of sales tax and excise duties are growing every year, the tourist state has also been consistently requesting the centre to ‘reward’ for its performance in population control, health education and overall educational performance, uplifting the quality of life.

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