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Kerala Govt shifts focus to social sectors

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Thiruvananthapuram , June 23

FOCUSSED spending on tourism and IT, once described sunrise sectors that engaged the attention of the State Government, is now prompting introspection vis-a-vis pressing livelihood issues.

Largely reflecting the new line of thinking, the Chief Minister, Mr A.K. Antony, told presspersons here after a Cabinet meeting that more money would henceforth be spent on improving the public health delivery system, education, infrastructure, drinking water, traditional industries and also for expediting rural development.

The Government would encourage areas such as tourism, IT and the neo-industries sector, but priority would now be accorded to traditional industries and rural development. Successive governments had ignored the public health sector for want of necessary finances, but the State was paying a huge price battling the scourge of diseases that once were thought to have been eradicated.

Morbidity had been ruling high in recent times, with the result that the State had 110 patients for every 1,000 of the population. The respective figures for rural and urban areas were 118 and 88, the Chief Minister said quoting latest statistics. With a view to improving the health delivery system in rural areas, the State Government had decided to sanction 1,200 new posts straddling the hierarchy from the Primary Health Centre to taluk-level hospitals.

Ordinance on fees: The Cabinet approved changes to the draft Ordinance to regulate fee and admission procedures in the self-financing professionals colleges in the State prior to forwarding the same for the Governor's approval.

In what is being seen as a rare case scenario, the newly appointed State Governor, Mr R.L. Bhatia, would likely promulgate the Ordinance even as the Assembly is scheduled to convene in a few days from now.

"But, the decision had to be rushed through in view of the emergency," the Chief Minister said.

The Ordinance would seek to regulate the fee structure in respect of 50 per cent of the seats in the self-financing professional colleges. The Ordinance commits the respective managements to admit 50 per cent of the students from the merit list, who would be charged the same amount of fees as in the Government colleges.

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