Partners in Development

PPP is the gateway to economic uplift

ECONOMIC GROWTH

MUSHTAQ SIDIQI

1988-89 saw the economic development in the State peaking. The future was then looking quite promising and the State  poised for radical improvements  in its development scenario. Peace was probably at its all time best and the conditions ideal for seeking outside investments in industrial and commercial ventures to bring the development scenario to a new higher plane. A new industrial policy was put in place that offered host of incentives to attract investments from the outside. Kashmir valley saw a number of trade and industrial delegations visiting from all over the country to explore possibilities of setting up major ventures. By one estimate, the State was in for investments of over Rs 25,000 crore, most of which was for projects that were to come up in the Valley. Thus the  private Sector was in for a new role in the economic development of  the State and offered new and lasting employment avenues to the locals.
 While the State was enjoying best of the times, the neighbouring Punjab was busy tackling a horrifying law and order position. None had the inkling about what was in store for this place. Like a sudden hail taking on standing crops in a flash, the situation rapidly deteriorated towards the end of 1989. The development initiatives were brought to naught. The law and order overtook priority pushing development into oblivion.  The result was that investors turned away shelving their projects and those of them who had either set up their ventures or were in the process of doing so, packed off and left for good, leaving the State in a lurch. Soon an orderly way of life gave way to the corruption of worst form. Public Institutions were worst affected.
Now the situation is showing signs of return to normality. This augurs well for renewed development initiatives to be given a right direction and the much needed momentum. A lot of time has already been consumed by the State tackling the law and order situation and, in the process,  the State has remained far behind the other States in the country on the development front.
  Many a new initiative of the State Government, taken in the recent past have begun to be visible, foremost being those relating to the revamping and consolidating the  critical infrastructure in  different sectors of economy such as tourism, industry, roads and buildings, power, education and health. Of these, Water, Power and Tourism offer good opportunities for the development of the State. These are the areas where the Government must remain focussed. But the biggest shortcoming is the availability of capital for taking the development initiatives in these sectors in a big way. Availability of capital is a serious limitation for a State like Jammu and Kashmir. The other limitations are the availability  technology and expertise. What, therefore, needs to be done is that the State Government should seriously consider opening of our critical sectors - Tourism, Power and Roads - to private sector investment in a big way. This can best be achieved by the  State collaborating with the private sector in the country in Public-Private Partnership mode so that the deficiencies of capital, technology and expertise are overcome.  The State has already taken a few initiatives in PPP mode in the recent past.  These need to be given further build up and the already launched projects closely watched for corrections that may be felt wanting.  Formation of the State Road Development Corporation, which is resting largely on PPP concept is one of the good initiatives taken by the State on way to economic prosperity. Should it go the way envisaged, it will give a boost to our Tourism sector by exploring newer areas and bring massive improvements in the road connectivity across the State. The program will also help in generating new employment avenues.
Large scale development of infrastructure in health and education sectors, with which this government is genuinely to be credited, will open fairly good prospects for local industry for collaboration, again in PPP mode. We have to be appreciative of the fact that our PPP approach has to be  twin-fold; one for the projects where the capital and technology requirement are of a scale beyond the means of the State and the other, where the State can conveniently partner with the local industry to the mutual advantage of each other.  In any case, the Public Private Partnership is going to be a buzzword for our policy makers if economic development of the State has to move ahead at a faster pace. 
All economic development measures have to be judged from a rational angle. The approach has to be apolitical; not criticism for the sake of it. That the State is capable of holding out the promise of peace and stability is of paramount importance and this aspect of the matter needs to be understood well. Otherwise, it will find no takers for its  development initiatives in PPP mode for the simple reason that the investors from outside will seek security of their financial and other investments, and that has but to be guaranteed.
The author is former Special Secretary to Government, Finance Department. He can be mailed at mushtaqsidiqi@yahoo.co.in

Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 26 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST




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