The Telegraph
Saturday , February 15 , 2014
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Fair growth, need for private business

Patna, Feb. 14: An economy growing at an even clip of about 12 per cent annually, agriculture moving along at a healthy 5.9 per cent and a per capita income which has jumped from 37 per cent of the national average in 2011-12 to over 41 per cent in the very next financial year — chief minister Nitish Kumar has every reason to smile at the healthy indicators laid down in the Bihar Economic Survey 2013-14 which was tabled in the Assembly today.

However, as economist Shaibal Gupta put it, in spite of all these healthy indicators, at the present rate of growth, the state would be able to reach the present status of Maharashtra in 20 years.

“It is still a public investment driven economy. We want it to become a private driven economy so that this period can be shortened,” said Gupta, the director of Asian Development Institute of India (Adri), which helps the finance department in preparing the survey.

He, however, asserted that the survey indicates further consolidation of Bihar’s economy. Since 1999-2000, the economy grew at an annual rate of 5.7 per cent at cons- tant prices.

“After that, the economy witnessed a turnaround and grew at an annual rate of 12 per cent. The rate of growth of the economy during 2006-13 is not only much higher, but one of the highest in the country,” says the survey.

The survey says that following the agriculture roadmap, the productivity of paddy has reached aver 200 kg per hectare. The annual average production of wheat during 2007-09 was around 45 lakh tonnes. This increased to 61.74 lakh tonnes in 2012-13. Similarly, the productivity of maize increased from 18 lakh tonnes to 27.56 lakh tonnes. The production of fish too registered a growth from 2.67 lakh tonnes to 4 lakh tonnes in 2012-13.

The state claims a growth of over 17 per cent in 2012-13. The investment per unit, Rs 1.87 lakh in 2007-08, increased to Rs 9.73 lakh in 2011-12. However, employment per unit in 2011-12 stood at just four per unit.

The low investment and employment indicates that the majority of industrial units coming up in Bihar fall in the small and tiny category. The state has cleared 1,363 proposals for establishing industrial units, which involve an investment of Rs 2.83 lakh crore. Milk procurement co-operatives are doing well. Through societies having a membership of 7.59 lakh people, around 12.45 lakh kg of milk is being procured everyday.

For former finance minister Sushil Kumar Modi, though, the survey has little new to say. “All the statistics taken are from the period when we were in government with Nitish Kumar. The achievements he claims is as much as ours as his,” he remarked.

Officials of the finance department remain tight-lipped over this. “Most of the statistics are taken from 2011-12 and some from 2012-13. The statistics of the first six months of 2013-14 have also been taken,” said Adri economist P.P. Ghosh.

In the infrastructure sector, Bihar, in terms of road length per 100 sqkm, has bypassed the all-India figure of 142.67km with a record achievement of 192.78km.

The number of registered vehicles has risen from 1.62 lakh in 2007-08 to 5 lakh in 2012-13. The survey has also pointed to work being undertaken to improve power transmission by setting up new lines and sub-stations at an investment of Rs 6,845 crore.

In the social sector, the survey shows improvement. The infant mortality rate in Bihar, at 48, is close to the national average of 47.

The institutional delivery of the state in 2012-13 stood at over 14.7 lakh as compared to 11.4 lakh in 2008-09. The literacy rate, which stood at 47 per cent in 2001, was 61.8 per cent in 2011. It indicates an increase in enrolment in primary schools, particularly among the Dalits.

The revenue surplus stood at Rs 51,101 crore in 2012-13 and is estimated to be Rs 6,809 crore in 2013-13.

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