Manipur Budget, 2011-12 for Faster Growth;– not for Consolidation

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By Professor N. Mohendro SinghA general statement of anticipated income and expenditure can hardly claim to have acquired the very core character of a meaningful budget. It should be fundamentally a very powerful “master document” with a strong commitment to the creation of new regime of decisive changes on all fronts. Essentially budget implies Economic Parenting with both regulatory and promotional roles. Budget should mediate risks and opportunities. Budget should be prepared to stimulate the potential growth impulses and at the same time to curb the excessive temptations and tendencies of instability and unproductive economic activities. It should be factual rather than an ethical exercise. Remember, a developed society has developed fiscal exercises free largely from damaging interference and distortions.
The Honourable Finance Minister, who is also Honourable Chief Minister of Manipur, is just like a surgeon and the economy is his patient. How long a brilliant surgeon should allow the dying patient on the sick bed to get deteriorated? He has moral and legal responsibility to save the patient through broad-based consultation and detailed diagnosis. Of course, by way of discharging his constitutional obligation, the routine “OPERATION” is over in March every year, while the patient is in “COMA”; in a critical condition of uncertainty and disarray without any ray of hope. Then, what are the net gains as long as the undesirable system of economic administration and policy planning is not changed and geared to initiate a new directional departure – to tap all available opportunities. Prolonged dependence upon the beaten track invites stagnation. As such, normally the annual budget announces new policy initiatives.
Look at Manipur. Right now painfully caught in a dragnet of unjustified risks, unjustified costs and unjustified barriers, the small open economy is increasingly exposed to multiplying “missed opportunities” and consequently has been reduced to a mere launching pad and transit – route with only spill-over effects. What about a strong foundation for stronger economy during the last 10 (ten) years of political stability in the state?
Remember every era has a spirit. The spirit of the present era consists of speed, scale scope and size (S4). Fast growth duly accompanied by equally fast Empowerment and Capacity building is, perhaps, the only answer to age-old concern of stagnation and underdevelopment suffered by enclave states like Manipur. We should not take wrong decision and wrong position. What Manipur needs to-day is a strong bias towards growth based on the burning desire to survive by growing and competition? No problem of any kind can be solved without budget. Budget is important, but more important is the way budget is prepared and much more important is the spirit with which budget is prepared and presented. 
Against this historical imperative, very interestingly the budget speech of the Honourable Chief Minister of Manipur states:  “Now we have to further consolidate the development gains so that the aspiration and expectation of every Manipuri is fulfilled …………………….. All these sectors have contributed to the consolidation of growth”.
Developmental Gains or Developmental Deprivations?Well, what could be the main objective of Manipur Budget, 2011-12; — Consolidation or Growth? The standpoint of the writer is that accelerated growth should be the core objective of Manipur Budget 2011-12; — not consolidation.  
The question is what are developmental gains after 59 years of so-called economic planning in the country? Have we solved the issue of MINIMUM NEEDS? Have we prepared “ENTITLMENT MAPPING”? In other words, do we have basic necessities such as good road, uninterrupted power supply, sufficient drinking water and good education?
The available official documents (GOI) reveal that only 60 % of households get electricity for 8 hours a day; that too for alternate days. 38 % depend upon kerosene. Per capita power consumption is 75 KWH in Manipur as against the national average of 360 KWH, 921 KWH of Punjab and 712 KWH of Goa. We have wire connections; — but not electric connection. This is number one developmental loss / deprivation. Last few years have visibly witnessed the drifting of Manipur economy into charcoal and kerosene age.
The second developmental loss / deprivation is non-availability of safe drinking water. In 2001 only 29.27 % of households in Manipur get benefit of tap water. 51% continue to depend on ponds, tanks, lakes, rivers, canals, springs etc. The water- borne diseases remain a threat to the major segment of child population.  To-day Manipur needs a new program of water literacy.
The low road density is the third developmental loss / deprivation. It is fairly low with only 52 kms in 100 km area. It ranges from 19.32 kms of Chandel to 144 kms of Thoubal district, whereas it is 1792 kms in Delhi and 224 kms in Goa. During rainy season the village roads and inter village roads are in pitiable condition.The deplorable standard of primary education is the fourth developmental loss / deprivation. The Annual Status of Education (Primary), 2010 of the Pratham Resource centre, New Delhi unfolds the following facts contradicting to the norms of Right to Education:–1. 84.6% of schools do not have facility for drinking water;2. 58% do not have usable toilets;3. 90% do not have library;4. 89% do not boundary wall;5. 27% do not have playground;6. 28% of children (III-V standard) cannot read text books of standard IA few more questions :— Do we have proper Evaluation Reports on any sector? Do we have Mid-term Reports? Do we have Outcome Budget? Do we have District Plans? Do we have blue-print of hill development? The answer is a big “NO”. But without these unavailable reports how can we identify the “Developmental Gains”?
Curiously enough, the Manipur budget, 2011-12, aims at achieving the agricultural growth rate of 9 % as against 4% of the country while the cropping intensity is only 132.73% with 13.24% of net irrigated agricultural land. The technological fatigue has been intensified by size handicap and weak institutional support. The direct agricultural bank credit is only 8.6 % of the total bank credit in Manipur. NABARD remains largely indifferent. One can hardly expect agricultural growth rate of 9 % against these constraints.
As such the obvious confusion between developmental gains and developmental loss/derivation, perhaps, needs a fresh examination in the right perspectives for fair appreciation of hard realities of shrinking entitlements. Now, the need of the hour is accelerated growth accompanied by fast empowerment and capacity-building. 
Tripura and Sikkim ExperienceManipur should learn a lot from Tripura and Sikkim. Let us see the Tripura and Sikkim experiences. With a strong political will and professional intervention, the governments of Tripura and Sikkim have set in motion a systematic development process largely marked by the agro-based industries and hospitality industry. The Budhjung Nagar Industrial Complex, a Semi-Economic Zone covering an area of 535 acres of land in North Agartala, about 30 kms from the city has five (05) major industrial segments, namely : (1) Export Promotion Industrial Park (EPIP), (2) Growth Centre (3) Extended Growth Centre, (4) Rubber Park and (5) Food Park.      
The Rubber Mission, Tripura is unique and realistic in the sense that market and technical connectivity have been assured with 3 (three) national companies; such as (1) the Bright Rubber, Kolkata, (2) Dharampaul Sathpaul, New Delhi and the Agartala Rubber industries, Tripura.
 The Rubber Board, India is so prompt in human resource development and in providing subsidies during gestation period. Sri Jiten Chawdhury, Honourable Minister, R.D., Industries and Tourism, Tripura has unique confidence and courage that the tension of poverty in hilly region should be tackled by 2020 through this Mission. Now, business tourism has picked up so fast that one cannot expect accommodation in single seated room below Rs. 1500/- a day. The Tripura Tourism Development Corporation is working round the clock.  
Understanding very clearly that the geo-physical constraints imposed by the hilly nature of the state are serious, the Sikkim government has launched a massive program on tourism industry. Every house in Sikkim has become a hotel with friendly cheers of a host state. East Sikkim has 26 tourist spots, West Sikkim 24, North Sikkim 13, South Sikkim 11 and 11 places of adventure tourism. Besides, Sikkim is made more colorful with 24 festivals a year. The state government can easily earn annual revenue of not less than Rs. 500 crore.
Interestingly, the Manipur Budget, 2011-12 is completely silent on this highly prospective area of tours and travels (Tourism). Remember tourism is the largest service industry in the country with enough export potentials.    

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