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Speech by Shri Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister, Goa
49th N.D.C. Meeting
, 1st September 2001, Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.


Hon’ble Prime Minister, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, distinguished colleagues and friends.

Let me first of all convey to everyone present here the warm wishes of the people of Goa and also my deep sense of pleasure and gratitude for this opportunity to express my views before this august body. I am acutely conscious of the heavy responsibility which is placed on all of us today, a responsibility to deliberate and decide on the future and the quality of life of the people of this country. I would like to pledge my most sincere efforts towards the goal of a better life for all our people.

While commending the Planning Commission in the preparation of the Approach Paper to the Tenth Plan, I feel that my comments and suggestions will best be appreciated against the backdrop of what Goa really is today. It is with a deep sense of pride that I am able to inform this august body that as per the Report of the National Commission on Population Goa has been ranked No.1 amongst all the States and Union Territories in terms of 12 key indicators determining the quality of life. This is based on data available with Planning Commission and Census figures. Goa has not only achieved almost ail the targets envisaged for the country for the Tenth Plan but has even surpassed most of them. For example, while the Tenth Plan proposes a growth of 8 percent in the GDP, Goa has already achieved a higher GSDP. In terms of social indicators such as literacy and infant mortality rate Goa is among the top 3 States in the country, and it is the only State which has 100% Registration of Births and Deaths. With the highest per capita income in the country, and being the 4th most favoured destination for private investment as per a study sponsored by the Confederation of Indian Industries (Cll), Goa has enviably managed to attain growth with equity and social justice for nearly all its citizens.

Goa's respect and concern for its people is reflected in the unique Mediclaim scheme under which all persons with an annual income of Rs.50,000/- and below are entitled to full specialized medical treatment upto an amount of Rs. 1.25 lakhs. Realizing that this amount was not sufficient for certain serious cases such as kidney failure and cancer, I have decided to raise financial limit to Rs. 3.00 lakhs and to increase the eligibility to all persons with an annual income of Rs. 75,000. The introduction on 15th August 2001 of the "Freedom from Hunger Project' which provides pension and insurance cover to all needy senior citizens is a very significant step towards ensuring a more secure life for our elders. The recent increase in the amount of assistance being disbursed per person through other social welfare schemes has also had a tremendous impact. My colleagues will be happy to know that Goa is the only State in the country which has a Uniform Civil Code.

A serious of dynamic initiatives has enabled my Government to substantially increase revenue generation over the past 10 months. Almost all the loopholes have been plugged and the tax administration has been tightened and made more efficient. In fact, the cost of revenue collection for Goa as a percent of the total revenue is only 0.55% which to the best of my knowledge is the lowest and most cost effective in the country today. User charges across a broad spectrum of services have been introduced. A very significant benefit of this fiscal buoyancy has been an increase in the resources now available for developmental use. In fact, during the fist 4 months of the current financial year we have been able to raise 40% more revenue than during the same period last year. I am also in the process of setting up a State Guarantee Redemption Fund which would serve the dual purpose of enhancing the credit worthiness of the State and provide a cushion for any further invocation of guarantees given.

The Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for Government servants which was introduced last year on the lines of those available in the Public and Private Sector was extremely successful in Goa, and I would like to convey my gratitude to the Union Government for accepting Goa's request for extending income tax exemption to the benefits under the VRS. As a result of this I have recently announced the second VRS for State Government employees in Goa. I envision that we will be able to right size the Government by reducing 5% of all posts by March 2002. A significant achievement indeed.

We are all aware of the fact that the ultimate objective of planning is to ensure human development and improvement in the quality of life of our people. Goa has already achieved a preeminent position in this regard. However, we are not resting on our laurels and we are instead looking to new vistas and expanding our horizons. Goa is already allocating much more than 6% of its GSDP on education and our emphasis now is on the quality of education. As part of this, school children throughout the State are being provided with computers and computer education is compulsory. In a recent step which is the first of its kind, Goa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Institute of Technology (I1T) Mumbai for collaboration in the field of higher technical education. Infrastructural development is a high priority area and extensive and ambitious projects in the tourism, Information Technology, Water and Road Sectors are currently underway. Each citizen in Goa will soon have a social security card and number, and our efforts should soon see all our people gainfully employed. We are constantly striving to achieve higher targets so as to meet our aspirations of a better and happier life of our people.

My comments to the Approach Paper to the Tenth Flan and other agenda items need to be seen against this canvas of Goa which 1 have just painted. To all of us in Goa, this tiny and verdant State lying between the sparkling turquoise waters of the Arabian sea and the lush greenery of the Western Ghats has been blessed by God and by the hard work and dedication of its generous and happy people who have led Goa to the enviable position it is in today.

However, I think all of us realize that good efforts need to be rewarded and that all people need and deserve motivation and encouragement. I welcome the acknowledgement in the Planning Commission that good performance should be recognized. I feel that there is tremendous scope for the Planning Commission to participate in a more pro-active way towards Goa. I realize that financial and other resources are limited and that people in other parts of this country may have a greater call to these resources than the people of Goa do. I cannot, therefore, in all fearness ask for a bigger share of the cake for Goa specially since as a proud goan. I feel there is more than we can contribute to the nation. Nonetheless, there is still a very vital role for the Planning Commission to play, one that I would dearly welcome. I am proud of the fact that with all its advantages Goa is the most progressive State in the country and it is set to become the first Model State. I request the Planning Commission to join hands with us in this endeavour by taking a totally fresh new look at the exciting possibilities that Goa has to offer.

I would like to make the observation here that in many ways, Goa’s path to development till date has been similar to that of the South East Asian countries in their fist phase of development as highlighted by renowned economists such as Prof. Amartya Sen and others. The basic similarity I am referring is the emphasis placed on investment in human capital. Goa today has reached the take offstage and is poised to leap into the next phase of development. I invite the Planning Commission and the Government of India to boldly go with us where no State has gone so far. The people of Goa, I feel, definitely deserve this much.

Returning to the other agenda items, the suggestion to transfer Centrally Sponsored Schemes to State is a welcome step. I would, however, caution that this would have to be based on an assessment of the utility of each scheme for the State. States should also be allowed the flexibility of modifying the parameters and norms of the schemes. I feel that any increase in project based support to the State should not be at the cost of the normal central assistance being received by States. I would appreciate a detailed enunciation of the components of the "Core" Plan at the Central level, and also the composition and the terms of reference of the joint team proposed. The programme of reforms would, it goes without saying, need to be finalized in consultation with the States.

There is much that the Planning Commission and the Government of India can give to Goa. But there is also much that Goa can give to other States and Union Territories. Goa has been able to translate into reality many of the dreams envisioned in the Approach Paper. We would be happy to collaborate with any State which is interested in learning from Goa’s experience with development.