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Survey outlines reform agenda for accelerated growth

Ashok Dasgupta

Policy reforms required to bring about better convergence of schemes


Streamlining of environment clearance for infrastructure projects suggested

Higher farm sector share in economic development needed


— PHOTO: RAJEEV BHAT

NEW CONTOURS:Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister, after tabling the Economic Survey 2010-11 in Parliament in New Delhi on Friday.

NEW DELHI: The Economic Survey 2010-11 has advised the government to carry out nearly a dozen reforms pertaining to various sectors of the economy and stressed that action in this regard would be necessary to achieve the 9 per cent GDP (gross domestic product) expansion projected for 2011-12 and further acceleration in economic growth in the years to come.

Drawing up the broad contours of the ‘Reform agenda', the Survey tabled in Parliament on Friday by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee noted that policy reforms were required to bring about better convergence of schemes to avoid duplication and leakages to ensure that the intended benefits reach the targeted groups.

Other major reform initiatives suggested include streamlining of environment clearance for infrastructure projects, the need for an early introduction of GST for “efficient taxation” of goods and services and the dire necessity of a second ‘Green Revolution' with technological break-through in the farm sector.

Expressing concern over delays in execution of projects owing to tussles between ministries such as coal and power in cases where the Ministry of Environment and Forest has raised certain policy issues, the Survey suggested an “urgent need to streamline land acquisition and environment clearance for infrastructure projects”. In this regard, it also called for creation of a National Forest Land Bank with clear paper work and title to reduce the approval time for forest clearance.

The Survey pointed to the need for higher contribution of the farm sector in overall economic development, especially with regard to checking food inflation, and asked the government to work towards a second Green Revolution as it could help the farming community to devise ways to reduce dependence on the monsoon. Prioritisation of targeted development of rain-fed area and effective marketing links should be ensured for better returns to the farmers, it said.

Stressing the need for huge capacity addition in infrastructure in a time-bound manner, the Survey said there was a need to explore avenues for increasing investment in this core sector through PPPs (public-private partnerships) and occasionally exclusive private investment, wherever possible. In the social sector, the Survey called for private sector participation in areas such as health and education in the form of ‘public-social-private partnership as this could be one of the possible alternatives for supplementing the ongoing efforts of the government.

With regard to the much-acclaimed Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Survey suggested further improvement such as shifting to permanent asset building and infrastructure development activities, reduction in transaction costs, better monitoring and extension of the scheme to urban areas.

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