Panaji, Mar 26 (IANS): While Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has promised that this year's budget will be realistic and futuristic, the stakeholders have suggested a special focus on education, agriculture, health and mining. The budget session of the assembly will begin from March 27.
Last year, soon after the swearing-in of his second government, Sawant had presented a budget focusing on revival of mining and not burdening the economy with new taxes.
Presently many stakeholders have suggested that the government lower the taxes and bring a new scheme for VAT and GST. They have asked for changes in the collection of VAT and also re-introduction of the old scheme of 2016 on VAT.
Speaking to IANS, educationist Narayan Desai said that the government should make provisions in the educational field and see that the allocations and utilisation are done properly.
"The government has said that it will definitely implement the 'New Education Policy' (NEP). Then the required items for the foundation stage, which is for the age group 3 to 8 years, should be provided," he said.
He added that the foundation stage demands infrastructure for children to play and for other activities. "That should be created first," he stated.
"An open ground is needed at the foundational stage, it is defined in the national curriculum framework. The government should give us a guarantee that it will take the foundation stage seriously by providing a good environment, open space and infrastructure, teachers able to handle this stage and to change their mindset. This is not an easy task," Desai said.
He said that the Covid pandemic has damaged us, but the government has not realised it. "For two to three years children remained away from an educational environment and even families have suffered. This impacted the children. What the government did to combat it was to shorten the syllabus and make the exams easier. It was not a solution, and this compromise has led to serious issues," he said.
"If the government wants to revive the educational process then it should implement the NEP properly and without compromising on it," he said.
Speaking about mining, president of the All Goa Machinery Owners Association, Sandeep Parab said that the government should allocate funds for the welfare of the people residing in the mining belts. "Funds should be allocated for this purpose and the government should provide medical facilities and help in education through these funds," Parab said, adding that the government should give priority to giving mining related business to the locals.
Rajendra Desai, president of the Sugarcane Producers Association, said that the government should focus on providing markets for the local produce and only then will the agriculture sector grow. "The government should increase the subsidy on the sugarcane produce and also focus on other agricultural products produced in the state," Desai said.
He said that the government should also make provisions to restart the sugar factories, which have stopped operations since the last three years.
Prahlad Sukhtankar, chapter head of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) - Goa advised that there is a need to create linkages between Goa's farmers and restaurateurs.
"We would like the government to consider giving the industry access to local farmers, so that restaurants can source local produce directly from them. Currently, the state horticulture department facilitates the sale of such produce to people in general. Restaurants would be happy to purchase the produce from the government at subsidised rates, passing on the direct benefit to farmers and better pricing for restaurants which would ultimately benefit the consumer," he added.
Associate Professor of Public Health, Goa Institute of Management, Kheya Furtado said that there is a need to increase allocations for non-communicable disease prevention and control programmes at the primary and secondary level.
"Goa reports a significantly higher prevalence of diabetes and hypertension among men and women, compared to the national figures for these diseases. We also simultaneously report a lower proportion of persons screened for cancer. These numbers indicate that we need to significantly increase our non-communicable disease prevention and control services to reach the entire population. Funding for these services needs to be directed at the primary care facilities (health and wellness centres), recruitment and training of adequate numbers of health workers and district health facilities," he said.
Associate Professor, Goa Institute of Management, Rohit Prabhudesai said that Panaji has been ranked at 230 out of 389 cities in India's pollution index.
"None of the Goan cities feature in the top 100 cities in the Swachh Bharat rankings. There should be more fund allocation for addressing issues surrounding cleanliness in Goa. The funds by the state should be provided in a systematic way, rather than waiting for municipalities to turn up and do their job. This I believe would be the way forward if we have to climb up in the cleanliness rankings," he said.
Representatives of micro industries, agriculture, fisheries, liquor industry, petrol pump owners, chartered accountants, pharmacy association, mining association and others have suggested many ways of revival.
"Some have suggested bringing down the taxes and changing the pattern and also to introduce new schemes," Sawant said.
He stated that hotel, liquor and entertainment associations have suggested introducing an entertainment and advertisement policy.
"This year's budget will be all-inclusive and based on 'Swayampurna Goa'. We will take all the suggestions into consideration," Sawant said.
"My government has set the target of availing the maximum benefits out of the Centrally sponsored schemes. The state will implement schemes in priority areas like education, healthcare, sanitation, tribal welfare. The Budget will be realistic and futuristic," he said.