Beyond Saving Finances

The birth of Government Corporations, alongside the departments, owes its origin to the idea of addressing more and more economic activities, & employment, with a view to contributing to the general good of the economy. The corporations have their well defined organizational/functional hierarchy conceived by the experts in economics, finance, planning and the ministers concerned, being people’s representatives. These entities run satisfactorily till their management and the staff  work  in a fair, friendly and fruitful manner. They provide employment & livelihood directly to thousands of people and to lakhs indirectly. They help provide a wider consumer base boosting demand, supply and investment. They contribute to the common material wealth of a public exchequer & an economy. An economy works like a human body. Though all parts have no equal importance and similar functions yet none is superfluous as they share the same common cause of a healthy and happy body to optimize its potential. As head is to the body so is government heading an economy to direct & aid it to rise, grow and ensure creation of wealth and well being. Broadly speaking these are production sector and the service sector. At central level the production sector by virtue of its nomenclature enjoys productivity linked bonus as per the prescribed scale & formula laid down in the Central Bonus Act (CBA) 9/1965. Some 15 years after the operation of the CBA the service sector advocated its case as producers of service to claim bonus. They successfully brought the government round their viewpoint for entitlement to bonus. The government agreed to their plea and granted them also what is now called non-productivity linked ad hoc bonus with effect from 1980, in vogue still.  Both the sectors are thus treated at par in principal by the central government for grant of bonus save with a difference in quantum higher in case of production sector.

Jammu & Kashmir too has a few corporations including some non-trading/non-commercial corporations which preserve and protect Kashmir heritage besides promoting trade & manufacturing activity. Initially Government used to provide 100 percent budgetary support to the non-trading/non-commercial corporations. Indubitably they are mostly productivity-centered and link the career prospects of their personnel with production unlike government departments which are exclusively service providers. The former create or try to create wealth, the latter spend. However, the two do not enjoy the same fate. Spending offices are carefree and those in production careworn, though both are organs of the same organic whole. In the science of wealth,  producers of goods  are the real increment to nation. Weak corporate sector means weak economy, always at the receiving end of the giant ones sucking its plasma. An idea is circling among public that Government of Jammu & Kashmir intends to wind up or merge some corporations with a view to saving finances and reducing expenditure. With the growing importance of corporate sector the idea seems surprising. This will mulct of future employment & production especially in the non-existent industry economy having run hostage to numerous problems and unemployment skyrocketing nowadays. The revenue earning & non-revenue offices, corporations, companies, factories etc, are the body parts of a government. If they are in red, causes of the disease are to be investigated, and then removed. Ground realities/circumstances under which these corporations had/ have to function, activities non-conducive to their health, non-transparency, non-accountability, administrative indifference, executive slack etc, are to be addressed. To resuscitate these corporations even use of a surgeon’s lancet may be advisable in place of scalpel, if situation demands, rather than abandoning the curable body. Till their balance sheets convalesce they may be managed like service sector. The remedial measures including resource mobilization & re-appropriation should not suffer logjam on regional, racial, religious or any other counts as the edifice of a strong centre rests on the stable States/UTs.

Every difficult or unpleasant situation has some advantage to be explored. That material resources increasing arithmetically in relation to population  growing geometrically pose phenomena of scarcity & plenty. Both are unpleasant situations. Though problems for the  naïve, these are  only challenges for managers. To managers frequency of human resources means availability of cheap & ready labour- one of the factors facilitating cost-effective production. The low cost of production enables fixation of sale price elastic enough to face competition and accommodate market fluctuations. Brand loyalty products enjoy easy market penetration, market expansion and market & product diversification. This redounds at good returns and investment in human and financial capitals necessary for balanced & sustainable economy. China the most populous country of the world has better utilised the vast human resources. With a population of over 144 crore sharing 18.4 percent of the total population of the world according to 11/20 worldometer,  China once a closed economy  has made forays in such an encompassing a manner that its products form part of world economy including the developed countries like USA, Japan, Russia etc, encircling  life everywhere.

If purely private enterprises starting, sometimes on borrowed money charged with interest, from retail out-lets or sole proprietorships flourish and are encouraged by Government to march ahead,  government corporations should not  face failures. Pertinent to mention that these corporations till yesteryears had their independent & permanent status. The timely governments were proud of their patronage and production. Factually opinions should be solicited for their revival, rejuvenation and up-gradation. Merger or winding up is no solution to any sick industry, it only increases unemployment and non-productivity. If posts in service sector are abolished with the retirement of the incumbents, and corporations wound up, there remains a flat felled tree. This has a tendency to lead to a precarious situation having potential enough to create many an  unease. Ways should neither be blocked nor curtailed. These should be at least maintained, if not widened, and made productive in consonance with the quintessence of respective entities. Every one cannot be equally placed, the avenues opened on a good note are not to be bundled for want of a mere rectification. Any model suitable & workable for the economy with division of labour for streamlining & specialisation may be adopted. This will also raise the percentage share of government in providing jobs being one of its duties. This may probably work as population care-taker and wiper of other problems also. The matter is not just about saving finances, reducing expenditure, lessening the administrative burden and government responsibility but beyond saving finances; it should be looked from the wider spectrum of requisites of an economy as a whole. That forms the balance sheet of a government as all contribute to and draw from the same public exchequer. And handsome is that handsome does.

The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and  Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.