Budget wish list

[M Panging Pao]

While many good initiatives were introduced in the last budget, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic messed up the economy of the world, including India and Arunachal. The world economy went into recession and targets set by the budget could not be achieved. However, with vaccines being planned to be rolled out in the next few days, citizens are expecting an economic recovery with a positive budget.

Due to the prolonged nationwide lockdown, thousands of people lost their jobs due to closure of industries. Thousands of people employed in the tourism and hospitality sector lost their livelihoods. Therefore, there is a need to rejuvenate the economy and create more jobs. With job openings in the government sector already saturated, the only way of generating jobs is by reviving industries and boosting the tourism sector.

Towards reviving industries, it is suggested that a separate department called ‘ease of doing business’ may be set up with the aim of boosting new industries and reviving the existing industries. This department should be entrusted with simplifying and expediting procedures and paperwork by ensuring a truly ‘single-window’ clearance system. The existing industries should be boosted by enforcing ‘Vocal for local’ in letter and spirit. Government departments should compulsorily procure from local manufacturers only. The other option is for the government to adopt and handhold a few industries in major sectors like textiles, wine and liquor, packaged water, sports, etc. These selected industries should be boosted for a short period of 3-4 years to make these industries self-sustaining. This cycle should be repeated after 3-4 years.

The plagued tourism sector needs to be revived and boosted on selected sectors with incentives and grants. Arunachal Pradesh as a preferred tourist destination maybe aggressively promoted through a dedicated media/PR campaign. Incentives and grants may be given to potential tourist operators.

Another key aspect in employment generation is skill development. Skill development programmes in different sectors should be accelerated to equip our youth with professional skills like tailoring, beautician, hospitality, computer applications, driving, electrician, plumbing, mechanic, etc. Once the required skills are acquired, our youth can pick up suitable jobs both within and outside the state.

In the agri-horti sector, the prime requirements are to skill and help our farmers for packaging finished products to reduce damage and prolong shelf lives. The other way to prolong product shelf life is by provisioning cold storages at key locations. Similarly, selected agripreneurs may be promoted in fisheries, poultry and livestock sectors.

Stabilized electricity is the basic requirement for sustaining all sectors, including industries, tourism, hospitality etc. The government must ensure preferential availability of stabilized electricity to all industries and hospitality sectors. Though electricity is surplus in our state, the transmission lines fail frequently, leading to erratic supply.

The wish list is long. However, a positive post-Covid budget would ensure revival of the economy and provide jobs for the unemployed locals. ‘Vocal for local’ should be vigorously pursued in order to ensure Aatmanirbhar Arunachal Pradesh. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)