11 per cent target for GSDP during current Plan period

Difficult but not impossible. That is how senior policymakers in the State government look at the targets of growth rates fixed in the 12th Plan document for Tamil Nadu.

For the first time, a double-digit figure of growth rate – 11 per cent – has been set as the target for the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), to be achieved during the current Plan period, ending in 2017. [Vision Tamil Nadu 2023, a document published by the State government in March 2012, also envisaged a growth rate of 11 per cent for the next 11 years].

The targets for the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors are five per cent, 10.5 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.

(Recently, the document, prepared by the State Planning Commission, has been made available in the public domain.)

The policymakers of the State government are not oblivious to the fact that that the present economic scenario at the national level does not present a rosy picture. Also, they are aware that in the 11th Plan period (2007-2012), despite enjoying the phase of relatively comfortable rainfall, the State’s primary sector could post only an annual average growth rate of 2.2 per cent against the targeted four per cent.

The first year of the 12th Plan period saw the State clocking a growth rate of only 4.61 per cent, which was attributed to drought and crop failure.

Although acknowledging the challenge in meeting the targets, the policymakers say right strategies have been worked out and there is every reason to be optimistic of the end results.

As regards the primary sector, one of the policymakers says that if one were to look at agriculture in the conventional sense of crop mix and production, the target of five per cent may be unrealistic. But, what is being emphasised is the bridging of yield gap, enhancement of productivity and the cultivation of high value – less water-intensive crops without compromising on production.

Keeping such factors in mind, the authorities are now promoting the system of rice intensification (SRI) as a whole-village concept, and, last year, around 1,900 villages took part in this scheme. SRI is a method that requires less nursery area, water, labour and fewer seeds.

Also, the allied sectors of animal husbandry, fisheries and dairy development are being given, consciously, greater thrust, both in terms of policymeasures and infusion of funds.

Arguing that the targets for GSDP and the three sectors are not set in an unrealistic manner, another policymaker points out that in the third and fourth years of the previous Plan period — when the problem of power shortage erupted— the State’s GSDP growth rate figures (10.36 per cent in 2009-10 and 9.83 per cent in 2010-11) were “quite close” to the overall growth target figure of 11 per cent.

The policymakers are confident that the performance of industry is bound to go up sharply when the problem of power shortage is sorted out. What has also been visualised is the persuasion of an integrated infrastructure development programme, through which the infrastructure sector will be guided to make the industry emerge as globally-competitive.

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