The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports year after year have been issuing warnings to Himachal Pradesh government on the increasingly grim financial situation of the state treasury. The situation has not improved either in the present Congress regime or in the last tenure of BJP. This was evident from the allegations and the counter allegations made by the Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and by the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. This was despite the fact that Virbhadra Singh has been making claims that Himachal Pradesh will achieve the World Sustainable Goals years ahead of the schedule. This must be welcomed by all quarters as this shows the commitment and the political will.
However, the main questions remain unanswered despite the assurances as to how this will be achieved. These posers are true for the political bosses heading the Union Government. However, we have to wait for the outcome of the changed policies and the reforms of the NDA government at the Centre despite many sharp pricks felt by the commoners during the ‘era of financial reforms’ since Nov 8 last. Before this, the formation NITI Ayog was much needed shift from the conventional working of the Planning Commission, which lost its glitter and innovation in working despite these bodies were headed by renowned economists or development scientists.
However, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh has been categorically emphasizing that this Hill State has decided to deviate from the mechanism of ‘planning’ from NITI Ayog, and thus, the state again drafted its annual plan for 2017-18 of Rs. 5,700 crore as per the conventional system. Himachal Pradesh government has also not made any change in its own State Planning Board, which much needed since long. There exist no experts in this State Planning Body from any field of expertise.
However, while making the shift, some safe-guards are necessary to be kept so that the commoners must not get the pin-pricks or feel ultimately being in the ‘trap’. For example, the recent new set of norms for bank account holders of the State Bank of India (SBI), with the merger other several state banks in it, has completely ignored the announcement of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he made a mass-appeal for opening of ‘zero-balance’ accounts in banks. The minimum amount in the accounts now envisaged by the SBI raged from Rs 1,000 to 5,000 in rural and urban areas. These norms out rightly dishonour the ‘Head of the Elected Government of India’. The NDA government had shown the vibrant actions to make reforms, which despite the discomfort people of India have welcome these. Commoners have been backing the BJP on this pretext for the BJP leadership as action oriented one.
In Himachal Pradesh, the earlier tenures of the state governments had always been showing the financial stress may at the hands of Finance or the Planning Commissions. However, both the BJP and the Congress governments in the state had formed the Committees for the generation of resources and employment from time to time in their respective tenures. However, none of these had done desirable tasks. The dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition has also ceased since long in the state. No one has heard about the governments organizing all party meetings since decades, but for the legislative work. Had this system continued, as this is still prevalent at the Centre, the State could have made steady all round development.
More so, the financial reforms alone will not work. These have to be coupled with administrative and social reforms, besides taking up the issues with the Centre by the ruling and the opposition sides together. However, whatever the State is able to do to make the PSUs viable entities by clubbing some with same aims and objectives or disbanding some others; doing away with duplicity of Institutions and enhancing the spirit of Corporate Social Responsibility among the entrepreneurs, harnessing natural resources to the judicious levels etc. the State is capable of becoming the leader among States of India as this Hill State has vast natural resources in its lap.