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Abhijit panel for economy revival

It will frame policies to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the state’s economy and ensure economic development in the post-lockdown period
Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

Pranesh Sarkar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 06.04.20, 08:08 PM

Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced establishment of a “global advisory board” headed by Nobel prize winner Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee to help her draw up a plan for Bengal economy in the post-lockdown period.

“When a disaster or a pandemic comes, a road map should be kept ready... For showing a future path to economic development and betterment of the society, we have set up a global advisory board to frame Covid response policy in Bengal. I want good people on the board. Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee will be on the board,” said the chief minister.

Sources at Nabanna said the move — first of its kind in the country — would help the state prepare a plan to deal with the uncertain future.

The chief minister said the board would frame policies to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the state’s economy and ensure economic development in the post-lockdown period. The other mandates would include suggestions to help the downtrodden people and develop a proper health infrastructure in future.

“Covid-19 is a new disease and there is an economic disaster in the country. There is a lockdown across the country. Businesses are hit hard and there is no revenue earning... It is entirely uncertain. In such a situation, a plan must be kept ready,” said Mamata.

The chief minister said she would talk to Abhijit, one of the recipients of the 2019 Nobel prize in economics, on Monday evening. She also said Swarup Sarkar, former regional director of the WHO, would be on the board.

“We will include one or two more persons who are known for their intelligence across the globe in the board. They would help us know what we should do in the post-lockdown period. How we should revive the economy that has been badly hit,” said Mamata.

The sources said Abhijit had spoken to the chief minister soon after the lockdown had started and expressed his desire to help the state.

“The chief minister decided to set up the board as she apprehends the economy would be hit hard because of the lockdown. She wanted to set up the board only to ensure that she can start working to revive the economy without wasting any time,” said an official.

Mamata, the sources said, expressed concern about the impact of the pandemic-linked recession on the Bengal economy.

“The chief minister is concerned about loss of jobs and dip in income opportunities among the downtrodden. She wants to keep a plan ready for future,” said a senior official.

Another official has said Mamata would like to focus on micro and small scale industries in the post-lockdown period as they are labour intensive. “Thousands of people depend on small and medium scale industries. If we focus on this sector, several more people could be accommodated at such units,” said the official.

According to the sources, Mamata is worried over nearly 1 lakh migrant labourers who used to work in other states and came back during the lockdown. “If the economy of the country gets a hit, they will face a real trouble. The state would also feel the pressure of so many people losing jobs. The board would look at the issue,” said a bureaucrat.


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