Alleging that the State Government is clueless about managing the economy, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik said its claim of fiscal prudence is a myth.
In his latest blog post, Patnaik has raised questions about the lack of growth in the State despite infusion of Central funds amounting to thousands of crores of rupees. “So, who has benefited from all the Central funds? Have the funds reached the people who need it most or have they been eaten by white ants? Has growth been inclusive?” he said.
Criticising the State Government for its lacklustre performance, the OPCC president said Odisha has the highest vacancies in key sectors like health and education. So, how are hospitals without doctors and schools without teachers delivering health care and education, he asked.
Stating that the Indian economy was stuck at 3.5 per cent GDP growth for decades, Patnaik said around 2001 the first generation of economic reforms had helped the economy to grow much faster, close to 8 per cent. “With the economy in the country growing at a higher rate the revenue situation of the Central and state governments improved. How justified is it for Naveen Patnaik’s Government to take credit for economic reforms and the consequent growth?” he said.
Patnaik said Odisha was the first State in the country to carry out power sector reforms, stopping drain on the State revenue because of populist pressure for free or unsustainable pricing of power and the many inefficiencies causing losses. But, these reforms were undertaken by the previous Congress government and not the present Government, Patnaik said, adding, “should, therefore, Naveen Patnaik take credit for power sector reforms also?”
The increase in plan size has been witnessed across all states, Patnaik said and added that it is worrying that in critical areas of plan expenditure like irrigation, the performance of the State has been poor.
The fact is the present Government has opposed economic reforms, indulged in rank-populism while claiming credit for success of the reforms initiated by the Centre, Patnaik said. What exactly has been done by the State Government by way of policy measures or administrative initiative to justify the claim of prudent fiscal management, he questioned.
Going by the most poverty estimates, among states, Odisha still has the highest percentage of poor people, Patnaik said, adding that in terms of health indicators like infant mortality and nutrition levels the State is one of the lowest in the country.
The State still has one of the highest levels of unemployment, both absolute and seasonal, Patnaik said and added that organised employment which was 7.98 lakhs in the year 2000 declined to 7.31 lakhs by 2010.
“What is the value in following a strategy of industrialisation if availability of jobs in the organised sector has declined after a decade of supposed economic turn-around?” he said.