Deviating for the first time ever, from the colonial norm of presenting the Union Budget on the last day of February, this time it was presented on the 1st day of February 2017. The government explained that this would enable legislative approvals for annual spending plans and tax proposals could be completed before the beginning of the new financial year on 1st April. Goa Chamber welcomes the Budget as there are quite a few positives for the major sectors that will help in terms of growth and creation of employment. The steps proposed in the Budget to enhance ease of doing business are also welcome.As far as Goa is concerned, obviously the Budget could not have any special reference. But Goa could be one of the five Special Tourism Zones planned under the incredible India Campaign.
Another departure from the norm was the doing away of the 92 year old practice of a separate railway budget. A British tradition since 1924, the Railway Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu proposed this change . This is a good thing as it will facilitate multi modal transport planning between railways, highways and inland waterways. Railways have received a Capital and development allocation of Rs. 1,31,000 crores . The focus on Passenger safety , cleanliness, bio-toilets in all trains and other services will go a long way in improving traveller satisfaction and the reforms in finance and accounting and Capital and development works will improve e the efficiency of Railways. A new Metro Rail Policy a new Metro Rail Act is proposed which will facilitate greater private participation and investment in construction and operation. We welcome these new initiatives.
Other than the British colonial vestiges, Goa has a lot of bridges and culverts which date back to the Portuguese era. Maintaining heritage structures without tampering is different from maintenance and upgradation of old 5 infrastructure. The bridges were designed for certain carrying capacities keeping in mind the limited traffic projections envisaged at those times. Immediately after the collapse of the old bridge at Mahad on the Mumbai-Goa highway, GCCI had written to the PWD to conduct a technical audit by a committee of experts to ascertain the structural stability of all the Portuguese era bridges and culverts in the State. In the meanwhile about ten metres of the Borim Bailey Bridge and its three columns have collapsed and the debris is lying in the Zuari River. The Captain of Ports has warned local fishermen and commercial vessels from crossing this area especially during low tide. Any delay in clearing the debris and taking care of the overhanging part poses a grave danger and may cause total stoppage of traffic in this area. We have reiterated this in a meeting with the Chief Minster, Mr Parsekar.
GCCI Logistics Committee organised a meeting at the Chamber with Mr. Narendra Sawaikar Hon’ble MP South Goa. GCCI handed a memorandum to the Hon’ble MP listing out the various demands including benefits that will accrue for Goa from the Sagarmala Project, development plan of Mormugao Port, revving the feeder service from MPT to JNPT (Mumbai), Commissioning of Multi Level Car Parking (MLCP) at Dabolim Airport lying unutilized for more than three years, Logistics hub at Dharbandora / Mopa, Development of Mapusa, Panaji and Margao with state-of-the-art facilities for tourists etc. Mr. Sawaikar outlined the various development projects undertaken under the aegis of the Central Government in Goa viz. new Zuari Bridge, third Mandovi Bridge, upgrading the existing highway to four-lane from Patradevi to Cancona, doubling of Railway track from Vasco to Londa, development of six Goan Rivers under National Waterways etc. He also clarified the apprehensions of the members with regard to the declaring of six Goan rivers as National Waterways assuring them that this being one of the prestigious projects for the state, he would take up with appropriate authorities at the centre to clear any impediments that exist in the execution of the project.
History teaches us evolution and progress . Let us learn from history !