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N-E excels in services sector

The Buddhist monastery at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh is a favourite among tourists

Guwahati, April 1: A broad-based and proactive approach has helped the northeastern states to lead the way in terms of growth in the services sector, with Arunachal Pradesh topping the list.

The Economic Survey 2011-12, tabled by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee recently, showed that most Northeast states registered a higher growth than the national average growth in the sector.

“Services revolution in India seems to be becoming more broad-based, with even the hitherto backward states piggybacking on the good performance of this sector to go up the escalator of progress,” the survey report said.

The growth rate in Arunachal was pegged at 34.9 per cent, while in Sikkim it was 30.1 per cent. Tripura, Nagaland and Mizoram also recorded a higher growth than the national average of 10.5 per cent.

As a matter of fact, the growth in services has been much above the overall GDP growth in India over the past 15 years.

“In Arunachal, the growth rate in the sub-sectors under services has been satisfactory with public administration registering 54.99 per cent, transport, storage and communication (including telecommunication) 23.29 per cent, banking and insurance 18.37 per cent, real estate 11 per cent, trade, hotels and restaurants 10.99 per cent and other services (mainly education and health) recording 41.43 per cent,” said Ankur Garg, secretary, (planning & development), to the government of Arunachal Pradesh.

“The exceptional growth under public administration was because of disbursal of arrears of the Sixth Pay Commission to employees during 2009-10,” he added.

The growth mantra in the hill state can be attributed to the government’s initiatives to invite foreign investment in tourism, hydropower, agriculture and horticulture. Besides, the state has taken steps to provide banking facilities in blocks that had been uncovered and promotion of financial inclusion by opening bank accounts for people without access to banking facilities.

“Of late, the state has increased its focus on tourism as an engine of growth and as a source of employment generation. The travel icon Lonely Planet — had even rated Arunachal Pradesh as the fourth best place in the world to travel to in 2012,” the official said.

Among the other steps taken by the Arunachal government to promote growth include adoption of the Arunachal Pradesh Public Private Partnership Policy 2011 to facilitate private sector participation in infrastructure and other growth areas and reforms in governance third party monitoring of projects, single-window clearance systems in most departments.

“Over the 12th plan, the state plans to create 1 lakh jobs. A master plan for agriculture and horticulture will be chalked out. The focus will also be on tea and rubber as engines of growth, and for providing avenues for employment. The proposal for setting up a skill development council and employment generation council had also been approved by the state cabinet recently,” Garg said.

Assam, too, has registered a decent growth in the services sector and the forecast for 2011-12 is bright as well.

According to the Economic Survey, Assam 2011-12, the services sector is likely to grow by 9.74 per cent in 2011-12 as against 8.76 per cent in 2010-11, owing to “good performance in all the key sectors such as transport, communication, trade, hotels and restaurants, specifically banking and insurance, real estate and business services (14.99 per cent).

“According to the quarterly statistics of deposits and credit of scheduled commercial banks of Reserve Bank of India, March 2011, the number of reporting bank offices of all scheduled commercial banks in Assam stood at 1,504 against 1,434 bank offices as reported in March 2010,” it said.

“The number of motor vehicles on road per 100 sq km in the state was 1,738 during 2010-11 as against 1,684 during 2009-10,” it added.

Neighbouring Tripura’s growth in the service sector can be gauged from the developments made over the past decade in the transport, education and health sectors.

The number of registered motor vehicles of all kinds has shot up from 45,199 in 1999 to 2,18,822 as on March 29, 2012. According to the findings of an all-India school education survey, 84.42 per cent habitations in Tripura have primary schools within 1km. On the health front, nine specific programmes, including the National Rural Health Mission, are being implemented.