The economy of a country is like a human body so far the degree of well-being is concerned. Even if one organ of a human body is having sickness, the person so suffering cannot be hale and hearty. In a nutshell, for the well-being of a person, all of his organs must be actively participating and free from any illness.
Economy, whether it is global, national or state, requires soundness of all components of the economy. For expediting the progress of the economy, a few out of innumerable factors are the production of goods and services, levels of production and productivity, the profitability of the concerns, increase in government revenue, increase in employment, increase in exports of the countries, increase in domestic consumptions, increase in private investment vis-à-vis increase in government investments, as may be applicable, decrease in imports with constant endeavour for import substitution, mitigation of economic disparities amongst the people and infrastructural development etc.
To sum up, in the context of India, the government must be ever vigilant with prowess for necessary steps for timely implementation of its decisions with one of the major ultimate aims being the achievement of an increase in its revenue keeping in mind the increase in government expenditure, a massive part of which is required for spending in infrastructural projects, salary payments, defence procurement, and healthcare etc. to name a few only out of a number of areas with regular increase in their number along with the increase in areas of government expenses.
From the new government of Assam which came to power in May 2021, I expected a lot of positive moves aiming at increase in government revenue, increase in the purchasing power of the people, and alleviation of the unemployment problem etc. with economic progress through substantial boost up to industrialization keeping in mind imperativeness of increase in expenditure. And to that end in view, I have been coming out regularly and more frequently with my views with suggestions to the same effect in my already published articles in the economic arena since the new government took over the charge in May this year.
An economy prospers meaningfully with a long term perspective provided its product and service bases result in their ongoing expansion. Any effort for increasing revenue without expansion of production and service bases is not only inimical for the business but is burdensome to the people at large also. Because of that, there is a global competition in all the areas of production of goods and services for achieving hegemony.
Failure of any management to contribute substantially must be considered seriously for its overhauling. As I have already mentioned, to a country’s economy all the states and the union territories must contribute. In the context of Assam, over a period of the last couple of months, the efforts of the government for creating jobs is really very much in the news. A number of employments require the viability of the projects wherein such absorptions take place.
Of course, any employment creation entails the requirement of revenue for the purpose and hence, by the side of the creation of employment opportunities, the government must ensure proper generation of revenue also for the purpose. The government must ensure such viability of the projects through the generation of sufficient revenue for the purposes. Quite pertinently, it has been noticed that the central government is emphasizing the generation of revenue even by the IITs themselves to ensure their smooth financial ongoing.
In most areas, the concept of charity is vanishing very fast and in this changing economy for its progress, financial soundness plays the most vital role for the government as well as the management of the concerns. Surprisingly, in this regard, I have not found any proactive and convincing action of the government of Assam towards an increase in its revenue satisfactorily till now and in near future, if the government does not take any action towards that, to me, the state’s economy may suffer very much.
The challenge of revamping the state’s industrial sector is quite a professional one to tackle and the results will prove its overall effectiveness. Hence, in a few of my earlier published articles, not only that I mentioned the challenges before the government for turning around the state’s industrial sector, but the government was also called upon to turn its eyes totally to professionalism if it required industrial development in true perspective. While I also mentioned that the government would surely stumble across various impediments, but for bringing about required changes in the economy, such firmness should not be compromised upon.
In Assam, I rule out a meaningful economic turnaround through agricultural development. In the next five to six years, many problems with mainly the unemployment problem will have new heights- propelling other issues like increase in the number of poor people, government’s steps driving increasing financial burdens to the already scathing agonies of the middle class and the poor class people thereby pushing more and more people into the poor class from the middle class. Because of that, all along, I have been emphasizing very much on expanding volumes of production of goods and services as topmost priority wherein the MSME sector is the most pivotal role player. But in this context, that must be backed up by people’s purchasing power. Tourism is another sector, the potential of which, to me, is not being realized by the government yet which is quite evident from the government’s scant attention towards that.
I have observed that for most of the MSMEs, one of the most cardinal problems is marketing. No doubt, periodically held trade fairs in the state are of some help. I would like to suggest putting a very vigorous thrust on marketing and the utility that the e-commerce platforms like Flipkart, Amazon, and Jiomart etc. may be able to extend in this regard – at least at the initial stage to create demands for the goods. While areas are searched for the generation of more revenues, if the government remains stagnant with no discernable progress towards industrialization inclusive of revamping the sick units and opening up new ventures, no satisfactory results can be expected.
Now with the benevolent schemes of the government, the challenges to improve upon the state’s exchequer has become absolutely imperative. The real test for the government is lying in how to make a breakthrough to create soundness of the state’s financial condition because, expenditures will always rise and to cope up with that trend unless the government ensures rapid industrial progress in the state, the growing financial burden is bound to fall heavily on the shoulders of the people.
Time has become absolutely ripe for us to be prudent and raise our voice against the alarmingly increasing cost of living. Instead of expanding the bases of revenue earning opportunities, the steps of the government to increase flow into its exchequer through taxes, increase in the prices of the essential commodities have been observed with great dismay. The prices of petrol, diesel and an LPG cylinder as on date and one year ago, are worth mentioning. An increase in the prices of petrol and diesel has increased flow into the government exchequer.
That is seriously impacting the prices of all the commodities due to the increase in transportation costs to the common people’s serious detriment which should have been a serious concern for the government. Price increase of LPG cylinders has become a very regular phenomenon. An increase of 2.5% being the latest one, in one go, is undoubtedly a big jump in LPG price.
If the government has adopted the means of price increase of the services and the goods under it as a means for strengthening up its financial position instead of an extension of industrialization, that will unleash a seriously detrimental effect aggravating the plights of the common people. Due to increase in the fares of conveyance by the city buses, the trekkers, and the taxis etc., a large number of people are seen relying on their feet for covering various distances and I call upon the state government to hear the people’s growing screaming in the society because that is a very unfortunate reality growing day by day.
Almost in all of my already published articles, I emphasized a meticulous roadmap for industrial progress in Assam. Efforts for agricultural development should go on but in the pathetic reality of the prevalence of fragments of landholding and the tremendous increase of manpower on agriculture, even though a great vista for the furtherance of agricultural development is not ruled out, yet considering the ground realities, very great jump of productivities to ensure the financial soundness of most of those dependent on agriculture is not at all convincing for me.
As regards the tea industry in the state, I have already made my opinion absolutely crystal clear in my already published articles with my discourse on that industry. Price rises have been observed for the outputs of the tea companies. How the market reacts to that, is directly related to the fate of those companies. Even though to get the concrete figures in respect of sales of the outputs of the companies there will be the necessity of a few months’ time, yet marked decrease of volumes of sales cannot be ruled out resulting in aggravation of losses, and impairing the margins of profit if at all any company is still enjoying the profit.
If the market response is not encouraging, which to me, is very highly probable because an increase of 20% to 25% of the price of the output is not likely to be accepted by the market without much resistance and in that eventuality will lead to a downward trend of the sales figures, a consequential severe setback for the entire tea industry may be unavoidable. Considering the number of stakeholders in the tea industry in Assam, how seriously the survival of those tea companies has been threatened must be looked into with all necessary actions for the benefits of one and all concerned. The tea industry, for having its predominant presence in the state’s industrial map in all respects with the avenue of employment being the most important one, a very great emphasis on its well-being, is definitely not out of proportion.
That the tourism sector will get a great facelift, at least in the short-run, I seriously doubt. Of course, the government is with the plea to hold the COVID-19 pandemic responsible for failure to do such a facelift. Now with the fear of the most probable third wave, that negligence of the tourism sector will continue further, seems to be quite sure.
We have stopped hearing about ambitious plans of the state government for the state’s economic development keeping in mind the interests of all the stakeholders. While all the spinning mills once established with very high hope, have met with the ultimate fate of closure, the new ones that the government is understood to have been thinking about establishing, are not thought to be with any promising future unless the modus operandi is changed into a professional one. However, in view of the capability of contributing to the state’s economy substantially with growing demands, the efforts for the development of livestock, fishery, dairy products and poultry firming etc. for being not very much capital intensive at least to start within the small scale, are hugely dependent on the people’s initiative and interest instead. But, I am not a person to daydream of the revitalization of the dying PSUs in Assam!
The turnaround of the country’s economy is in sight even though the increase in the declared figure of the GDP in the first quarter of the FY 2021-2022 is on a YoY basis instead of being based on the period prior to the period of the COVID-19 onslaught, and the domestic consumption and the private investments are yet to be heartening. That almost all the states and the union territories are in the process of welcoming the challenges to their economies, is quite clear and hence heartening. But the most important question is- will Assam be in competition with them to reduce dependence on the products from different states and union territories to cater to the state’s requirements?
For that, even though the people must have been eagerly waiting to see the performance of our state’s economy, but to me, the actions that have been observed till now, are not in conformity with the ambitious plans that the new government announced after gaining power in the state. While the figure of economic growth of the country in the first quarter of 2021-2022 has been declared as around 20% on a YoY basis, though in fact, the same GDP is about 9% lower than the year before and vis-a-vis the claim of satisfactory hike in exports, the private consumption is lying low, and I am quite convinced that it, i.e. the low lying private consumption must have been due to growing financial distress of the lower-income category, giving rise to further economic turmoil and income disparity. The reasons for such aggravation of economic turmoil and income disparity need early attention. In the event of failure to take necessary remedial action expeditiously, the impacts of a suspected K-shaped recovery in the country, even in the short run, will undoubtedly sweep across the state of Assam very badly.