Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced here on Monday that the State government would draw up a perspective plan for Kerala for the next two decades with the help of the Planning Commission.
The Chief Minister was addressing the media after a brainstorming session with Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, State Ministers, members of the State Planning Board and higher officials here on Monday on the proposed plan for Kerala 2030.
Mr. Chandy said that Kerala would be the first State to draw up such a plan. The State can be the nursery for trying out solutions for second generation development problems. Discussions would be held with all sections of the society before the plan is finalised.
Earlier addressing the session, the chief Minister said that plan should take into account the global and national perspectives. “The Kerala 2030 document should be valued- for what it contains - for the next two decades. It should not just be a collection of schemes or a wish list. The plan should not only look at the outcomes. It must also take into account the resources, capacities and skills. It must be flexible. It should give options so that it can adapt itself to changes. Any plan that remains only on paper is a wasted exercise.”
He noted that “inclusive growth” was the only option available in a democracy. “We cannot afford to have the gap between the rich and poor widen. The implications can be very severe. The loss will not only be in the political or social sense but also in the economic sense- in terms of access to services, skills and opportunities for all.”
The Chief Minister said that the perspective plan should be one that would give overseas Keralites confidence to return home. “Kerala is probably the most globalised State in the country. Any plan that we work out should take into account the large section of our population overseas. They are more directly impacted by any adverse global developments.”
Mr. Chandy said that the State would have to work out models by which it could have collaborative initiatives between the public and private sector. “To give us the planned growth momentum, it would be good if we are able to use public funds as a catalyst for attracting large private investment, especially in building public infra-structure.”
He said that innovation would have to be the main driver if we wanted to achieve rapid progress in all fields. “We will need to innovate on delivery of our services. I also would expect the private sector to take initiatives to innovate to become globally competitive.”
He noted that the State should have to make quantum leaps in research and development. “R&D and Innovation are the engines for growth. We cannot afford to be left behind in these. This will require a determined effort to provide the environment in which science and technology can flourish. We will also need to reach out progressively to higher and still higher levels in higher education, focusing on quality and excellence.”
He said that an immediate area of concern was Agriculture. “We need to achieve high levels of productivity. We also need to go in for mechanization and high value- added agriculture taking into account the shortage of farm labour. Organic farming and reduction of harmful fertilizers will have to be our priorities.”
Another major challenge was that of creating infrastructure. “We need clean, sustainable and affordable energy; good roads, fast trains, better air connectivity and more efficient water transport. All these require massive investments and planning. Our focus of public spending in the past had been on the social sector. This is one of reasons for the lagging behind of our public infra-structure. We have to make up for it and remove this image of an advance society with a bad public infrastructure.”
He observed that the State had high potential for greater role in the Information Technology sector. “It has the best environment, both in the form of the workforce and the climate, it is yet much below where it should be. While the country has reaped the advantages of this technology to the full, the State is yet to achieve its proportionate share in it.
“We need a clear plan for creation and optimal use of resources – financial, human and institutional- to achieve the vision that we set for ourselves. We need to strengthen our public delivery systems and ensure that the government acts in a transparent, efficient and effective manner.”
He further observed that for any long term development plan to succeed, it was necessary to build consensus on issues that are vital to the State. “I am prepared to work across political lines to build this consensus once we have a carefully thought out plan in place.”