The modus operandi of government earning and spending is having similarity with our personal earning and spending to the extent that for spending money there must be generation of revenue even though the sources of revenue and heads of expenditure are different on these counts.
To spend we must have money. Without sufficient money we have to resort to procurement on credit, but that credit becomes a burden to us.
Government spending is generally recovered through three means, viz., imposition of taxes, printing new notes and borrowing money. Therefore, whatever may be the government actions for recovering its spending, the common people are likely to bear the brunt of that.
Extension of benefits to the poor class of people is really praise-worthy and the benefits available to the identified sections of the people for the purposes, have by now been known.
In the context of such actions of the newly formed ministry, so that while making the required funds available for the purpose, the middle class people will not have to face any financial burden out of that, should also occupy prime consideration of the government since, most of the people in the middle class have already experienced great financial distress out of unemployment, loss of earning, and irregularities in receiving salaries in this greatly ravaged economy.
To me, in the society, the middle-class people are the worst sufferer out of the fury of the COVID-19 outbreak. The vagaries of the nature’s fury are bringing down a plethora of major sufferings- from losing jobs to bearing exorbitant price rises.
Assam, being a state limping economically in the country, while the poor class of people deserves care, the middle-class people must also be heard of their agonies.
In one of my recently published articles in this esteemed e-paper, I depicted a factual position of how prices of different commodities were steeping up. If those prices are based on, how much alarming the upward changes in the prices of almost all the mentioned articles in the next a few days from the date of that publication, is felt with great agony.
Extension of government benefits must have relation to generation of revenue by the government which is as simple as our income and expenditure statement. For incurring expenses, we must earn. So, government must earn to spend. For earning revenue, government is generally with three options viz. imposition of taxes, doing borrowing and printing new notes. Imposition of taxes may be through direct taxes and indirect taxes.
Government borrowing is mainly through issuing instruments like different bonds, which are redeemed after stipulated periods, which means, for redeeming those borrowings, government will require funds. The third option i.e. printing new notes is having direct impact on inflation.
True, government needs money for various reasons, but in case of Assam, compared to so many economically better states, the sufferings of the middle-class people are more rapid in rise. For last so many years, I have been relentlessly uttering for proper government actions for economic progress.
I must assert in no ambiguous terms that no country, not to speak of the states, can earn economic stability viably beyond a short period of time unless the economy shows its growth through industrial development.
Assam in that respect is pathetically lagging behind. Out of industrialization not only direct absorptions are ensured but even some ancillary earning opportunities also take place.
Like, if a textile mill is set up, nearby that, a market will also take shape to supply different commodities to the mill, like stationeries, electrical appliances, and hardware etc. and due to opportunities like house-keeping and maintenance jobs on contract basis, some income opportunities to some other than the employees will take place. The entire process will lead to an economic gleaming.
With economic soundness, those people will be having better purchasing power. The wound-up industrial units and those limping, heavily outnumber the sound industrial units more particularly in the MSME sector.
Therefore, except for the PSUs, most of which were set up long ago, the state of Assam is really very poor in industrialization and that is, wherefrom, according to me, our effort for economic turnaround aiming at contributing meaningfully to the state’s exchequer must be started.
Pathetically enough, even though one of the reasons for which the people of Assam wanted NDA government in Assam in 2015 was need of ignition of buoyancy in industrial sector, that purpose stood clearly defeated in its term which ended recently. What was the fault, for which the employees of the Paper Mill at Jagiroad and Cachar Paper Mill and their relatives faced destitution, is not known.
Except for false promises of revitalization of Ashok Paper Mill at Jogighopa, the mill itself and the people did not get anything. Most of the small tea gardens, for the tea growers, have become a beast of burden with default in loan payment by a number of those tea growers, while inadequate price of their tea leaves being another attack on their financial conditions.
If one looks at the places of historical importance, one will hardly have any impetus to invite any of his/her friends from other states to visit those places. I have already written in this esteemed e-paper how most of the tea gardens in Assam are suffering from financial unsoundness with impacts of such unsoundness on different stake-holders, also mentioning that considering that industry’s capability to absorb labourers, that industry requires most serious consideration for its well-being.
So, if the government wants a curve of sustained growth of its economy, it must start from the industrial sector, which of course, together with government initiatives, will require professional outlook in all spheres of its functioning for a meaningful progress of the economy.
But, frankly speaking, even though very new, I have not seen any such roadmap on the part of this new government till now. The new government is understood to have undertaken some welfare measures inclusive of the decision to waive the microfinance loans and towards that, actions have also been started.
Though really praise-worthy those decisions are, but the most pivotal question that is haunting my mind is, how much burden of the financial implications of them will have to be borne by the middle-class people unless economic progress absorbs those financial requirements for implementation of the government plans.
On one hand fear of facing increase in direct taxes and on the other hand increase in the prices of the goods and services that the middle-class people are facing very awfully- both have created an atmosphere of financial suffocation for them.
In the meantime, contrary to the expectation of the people of the country, as predicted by the SBI research report ‘Ecowrap’, the country’s GDP is likely to grow at 1.3% only in the fourth quarter of 2020-2021.
Though fall in the hiring of employees by the central government is steeper than fall in the hiring of employees by the state governments in the last three years, yet, both the downward trends are so steep that now certain sections of the people are deeply immersed in finding out the reasons and the magnitude of that problem the most piercing pinch of that problem, the unemployed youths will face in near future.
I am having reason to be apprehensive that the pinch will be much more severe in Assam. When can we expect to hear from the new government that the paper mills at Cachar, and Jagiroad and the Ashok Paper Mill will be revitalized? Can the erstwhile employees of Prag bosimi Synthetics Ltd. hear a long- awaited good news of its functioning again?
By revamping APOL, numbers of youths can be given financial support. But never any sincere and serious intention of the government has been noticed towards that direction till now. When shall we find government taking proactive actions for revamping ASTC? Is the government too keen to undertake meaningful steps towards getting the small tea growers rid of their perennial problems?
I have also noticed with great seriousness and despair those with indifferent and callous attitude towards such pitiable condition of industrialization which requires an urgent upsurge for an industrial turnaround in the state and hence, at the time when the government comes out with its strategies for revamping those industrial units, unless all other concerned stake holders like the management, and the employees, rise to the occasion, only the government initiatives will be futile.
What I have dwelt on is simply an iceberg of a number of such fateful industrial units. That tourism sector in Assam is in a pathetic condition not capable of attracting tourist in bulk numbers, is a very tedious repetition of mine.
Decisions to hike electricity tariff in regular intervals without improving quality of service and internal management, to me, is a great injustice to the consumers. Let us not forget that living together of PSU managements with inefficiency is the most prominent reason of entry of the private sector.
So, while I call upon the government of Assam to keep industrialization as the most prioritized item in its agenda, I mince no words in criticizing the other stakeholders also who have miserably failed in discharging their duties.
In view of the central government policies regarding privatization, to me, it is also high time for the youths to be not very much optimistic about the picture of opportunities in the public sector, when the writing on wall that private sector is making a great headway and will be more vigorous in the days to come, is crystal clear.
True, now the government is bogged down with the onslaught of the prevailing second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. But at the same time, improvement of the financial infrastructure must also have to occupy a prioritized position in its agenda.
Without improving upon the economic health of the state, continuation with those welfare measures aiming at relieving the financial pain of the poor class of people is suspected not only to carry on its infliction on the middle class very hard but to the economy to a steeper industrial backwardness as well.
(The author, Satyajit Kumar Sharmah Thakur, is a Guwahati-based advocate)