With the first week of the New Year already past us, soon the country's focus will also move towards the all-important budget session that will decide the financial fate of the nation for the next financial year. The economic scenario continues to disappoint; the Central Statistics Office has projected a growth rate for 2019-20 at 5 per cent, an 11-year low. This estimate is much lower than the 7 per cent growth rate projected in the Economic Survey as also the average forecast of 5.5 per cent by major agencies. All the three sectors of the economy - agriculture, industry and services - are projected to grow at a lower rate than the previous year. The worst hit, however, is the industries sector with the growth rate at just a third of the previous year. Clearly, the after-effects of demonetization and a hastily-applied GST are still to end. It is the responsibility of the central government to seriously ramp up its efforts by engaging with domain experts.
At around 15 per cent, Maharashtra contributes the most to India's GDP. Maharashtra is a crucial and important state for India to realise its 5 trillion-dollar target, a state that by itself is looking towards reaching a target of a trillion-dollar economy by 2024. Hence, at a time when industries are seeing a downturn nationwide, it becomes the responsibility of the state to step up and bridge the industries-policies gap to ensure growth is not hampered. In the last assembly session, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addressed the farmers' woes and those affected by the economic downturn through government interventions such as loan waivers, setting up a steel plant in Vidarbha & Rs 10 meals yesterday reached out to the industry captains to seek their suggestions to take the economy forward. The meeting came a day after business heads including Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata met the Prime Minister and shared their inputs against the backdrop of a serious economic downturn.
It is a shame that the opposition party that has been rendered jobless with no real-time issues to hit the Maha Vikas Aghadi government with is trying to spread canards about how infrastructure projects are being stalled. The Chief Minister in his interaction with India Inc's top honchos has unequivocally reassured them that the government is doing no such thing and is in fact looking at fast-forwarding most of the work in progress. Fast-tracking projects, creating special purpose vehicles and one-window clearances are some of the suggestions put to him. Generating employment through support to tourism, manufacturing, and infrastructure-building are the low hanging fruit for any government. In the CSO estimates, what is worrying is the performance of the manufacturing sector which is key to job creation; this is projected to grow at just 2 per cent against 6.9 per cent in the previous fiscal, and how to o address this in the state is a priority for the government. The Chief Minister promised the delegation that the government will bring in industry-specific policies and targeted incentives while assuring a business-friendly environment in the state.
It is also worth noting that for businesses to thrive, what is needed is an environment that is conducive for business in the state. Apart from the challenges the economy faces, there are those generated by the continuing strife across the nation which makes foreign investors hesitant to act in India. While some of the states and Dehi in particular have seen violent protests due to police high-handedness, it is reassuring to hear the Maharashtra Chief Minister stand in support of the protesting students while committing that his administration will ensure that no such violence took place in Maharashtra.
Many cities in the state have seen public protests against CAA but they have been largely peaceful. It sends out just the right message that Maharashtra is a state open for growth for all with no space for biases and for businesses in all shapes and sizes - be it start-up, small, medium or large. As Maharashtra gears up to celebrate its 60th year as a state of India, the message from the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi is very clear - the agenda will be good and transparent governance for all.
(Priyanka Chaturvedi is a Deputy Leader & National Spokesperson, Shiv Sena.)
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