Monday, March 13, 2006

Bihar on road to recovery, CM tells industry

Our Political Bureau / New Delhi March 13, 2006

Too proud to beg for investment but determined to sell Bihar as a state where return on investment would be assured, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told the Associated Chamber of Commerce (Assocham) that Bihar was on its way to recovery and law and order was his government?s top priority.

?I recognise that you will not put your money in Bihar simply because you like my face. You should invest in the state because you will eventually make money here. But whether you invest or not, law and order will be restored in Bihar. It will become a bank-able state. I am not here to lament about the way Bihar has slipped into the red on all fronts. I am here to tell you how I'm going to bring it back in the black" he said at an Assocham session on Bihar, the first by a chamber of commerce.

At the meeting was also unveiled the first-ever World Bank report on Bihar by Mandakini Kaul, who said the state?s few successes stood out like beacons amid the depressingly poor human resource indices.

These were the astonishing achievements of the farmers of Paliganj, who had formed a cooperative for irrigation, and the Sudha Dairy venture launched by the state government to band together 2.5 lakh households in a fully functional cooperative which could, without difficulty, be replicated in areas like food and fruit and vegetables, he said. Bihar accounts for 8 to 10 per cent of national production of fruit and vegetables.

Kumar explained how hard the government had been working during the last three months it had been in power. The Fiscal Responsibility and Management Act and an outcome-oriented Budget with reallocation of expenditure for priority areas had been passed, he said.

Procurement and financial management systems were being put in place and a new industrial policy, incorporating all the demands of the private sector, had been passed, Kumar said, adding that power reforms, too, were under way.

By the end of May, panchayati raj elections would instal credible panchayats, leading to scrutiny of expenditure and matching of outlays with outcomes, he said. Kumar said, ?My philosophy is simple. The law and order system must be autonomous, brooking no political interference and every person in the government must do the job that he is supposed to do."

He said Bihar's tax collection system was being improved and he had communicated to the Centre that Bihar would, using it's own resources, supplement the current 38 districts covered by the Employment Guarantee Act by making it mandatory for the state to provide employment in the remaining 15.

Former Planning Commission member NK Singh said Bihar had many positives which industry was yet to discover. Member of the Bihar task force, Satish Jha, said the state was on the roll.
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