State would aim at a growth rate of over 9 per cent during the Plan to reduce poverty by 15 percentage points

Our Bureau

New Delhi, March 3

The size of the annual plan of Orissa for 2008-09 has been pegged at Rs 7,500 crore here, inclusive of additional Central assistance of Rs 100 crore for projects of special interest to the State. Another Rs 100-crore special grant was given for improving its highway. This was arrived at a meeting between Planning Commission’s Deputy Chairman, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and the Chief Minister, Mr Naveen Patnaik.

In his remarks, Mr Ahluwalia said the State has been improving in plan performance. He said investment climate continues to be positive but efforts should be made to ensure early execution of commitments. Investments in agriculture infrastructure and human development sector need to be stepped up.

Suitable policy measures should be taken to create a conducive environment that fosters growth of entrepreneurship and encourages private sector investments. The State should diversify its economy with a view to insulate it from natural calamities and to divert underemployed labour force from farm to non-farm sector.

Poverty, unemployment

Attention was drawn to the high incidence of poverty, unemployment and low per capita income. It was also pointed out that State’s education and health indicators were still less than the national average.

Efforts should be further intensified to reduce this gap during the 11th Plan period. Attention was also drawn to high transmission and distribution losses, and low rural electrification. The State was advised to give priority to skill development and rural connectivity.

Briefing the Commission on development strategy for the 11th Plan, Mr Patnaik said the State would aim at a growth rate of over 9 per cent during the Plan to reduce poverty by 15 percentage points. For inclusive, broad-based and sustainable growth, agriculture and allied sector would be given priority. He said the State has achieved an annual growth rate of 8.59 per cent during the Tenth Plan period against the target of 6.2 per cent.

He urged the Centre to establish educational institutions such as IIT, IIM, IIIT and Central universities in the State, to meet growing needs of highly skilled manpower for upcoming industries.

Exemption from income tax and Central excise tax for a period of 10 years for KBK region was also demanded. He said the Centre should immediately revise royalty on coal and other minerals on ad-valorem basis and transfer entire export duty levied on major minerals to the concern States.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 4, 2008)
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