Is the government lifting the self-imposed embargo on jobs to offset the resentment it currently facing on account of the projects that are underway? Or is it to build vote-banks for elections 2022? Or both? Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s announcement that government's ban on recruitment is finally going to be lifted, and hiring will begin from January 2021 comes as a bolt from the blue.
Unemployment has undoubtedly been one of the major issues affecting Goa for decades. Ironically, a section of political leaders has tried to manipulate their way and play vote-bank politics. In November 2016, Laxmikant Parsekar had issued a blanket ban on government recruitments and kept on hold 1200 jobs in various departments on the premise that government is not on a financially sound footing to incur additional expenses on human resource. In reality, that was a move to pre-empt leaders from using jobs as a bargain for votes ahead of the 2017 assembly election which was barely four months away. Sudin Dhavalikar's post-poll assertion that MGP suffered because of the ban on recruitment was a testimony to the fact jobs can make a difference in elections.
Ever since, there have been numerous announcements of lifting the ban on recruitment, including the ones made by Manohar Parrikar during his uncertain tenure of 2017-19. Apart from the minor department vacancies that were filled and contract staff recruited, the government has never really committed to jobs. Also, with crucial revenue sectors failing to take-off, it was financially unviable to open up the treasury for further spending.
Lest we forget, last September the 1,200 vacancies advertised by various departments were summarily kept on hold by Sawant with a direction that all recruitment to Group C posts is to be carried out by Goa Staff Selection Commission. The Goa Staff Selection Commission Bill, 2019 had just got the governor's assent that time and the CM's decision had left several ministers eyeing job quotas red-faced.
Cut into the present, and it is even more surprising. It was only in June this year that Sawant had announced a slew of austerity measures citing a dismal fiscal situation in the wake of a raging Covid outbreak. Ban in departmental recruitment was one of them. It is common knowledge that nothing drastic has changed financially between June and now that the State is announcing a major recruitment drive. The tax collections are still way short, and the government continues its borrowing spree.
In another development, four days back Valpoi MLA and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane sent out a message to his constituents that jobs will open up soon and the recruitment will be handled by the departments and not by the Staff Selection Commission. He asserted that those who are "working with us" will be considered, and those protesting will get no backing.
At this juncture, jobs are very much needed, and if the government is ready to explain their math, the move must be appreciated. However, at the end of it all, deserving candidates need to get these jobs. The government should not bypass the Staff Selection Commission process to accommodate political interests. If the government cares for the common man, it has to play fair and square.