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Take Baby Steps Towards Self-Reliance

By   /  November 30, 2018  /  Comments Off on Take Baby Steps Towards Self-Reliance

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The 15th Finance Commission led by its chairman Nand Kishore Singh is in Nagaland at a time when almost all the state’s government departments are busy preparing for the much-awaited 10-day Hornbill Festival, which is starting on December 1. For the state government, the team’s visit is vital as it will determine the fate of the state for five years starting 2020-2021. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had placed the plight of the state to the commission during a special meeting, highlighting the continuous financial liabilities the state has had to face after the central government discontinued some schemes during the 9th FC and then the special category status during the 13th FC. The CM also emphasised on the financial burden caused by natural calamities and construction of new offices to replace old buildings, among others. Responding to the memorandum that was placed before the commission, Singh had said that the FC was “exceedingly sympathetic” to the needs, requirements and challenges of the state. This positive response is reassuring as the commission is a legitimate body that frames the formula for sharing divisible taxes between the Centre and the states. Its recommendations are usually accepted by the parliament. But how long will the state function at the mercy of the central government? The state’s over-dependence on the Centre is worrying. On the virtue of the special category status that the state enjoys, it can contribute only 10 percent to centrally-sponsored schemes and flagship programmes while the central government pays the remaining 90 percent of the funds. Still, the state government is finding it difficult to contribute to the schemes due to resource constraints and has sought 100 percent grants. It is crystal clear that the state generates negligible revenue, not even sufficient to meet the cost of administration, let alone channelling income into developmental projects. This stark reality calls for an urgent need to unearth a mechanism to boost the economy of the state. Concerted efforts should be made to transform the talents of the youths into a revenue-generating force and to find alternative employment avenues in the private sector. The reason: job opportunities in the public sector have reached a level of saturation. Rio had said recently that an MoU was signed with a South African firm to purchase coffee produced from the state, which has the potential to employ up to 10,000 youths in the next three years. This is a welcoming development for industry-starved Nagaland. Besides coffee production, the visiting Finance Commission team is of the opinion that tourism and organic farming can boost the state’s economy. It is time to break the chains of over-dependence on the government and take the baby steps towards self-reliance.

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