Maximum government, minimum governance

It is a sad but unfortunate truth that the state BJP government that talks of good governance as a priority has miserably failed to walk the talk

Deepak Laad | FEBRUARY 14, 2020, 03:01 AM IST

Deepak Laad

The state of affairs in our state’s legislative assembly appropriately explains the old proverb – ‘too many cooks spoil the broth.’ The lot is mostly seen engaged in making more noise and causing a ruckus instead of delivering good governance. Recently, on budget presentation day, we witnessed the opposition MLAs at their worst behaviour ever. The unruly ten had to be evicted by the House Marshals. Neither did the Speaker cover himself in glory when he showed unnecessary urgency and eagerness, as if there was no tomorrow, in allowing the police to arrest the MLA in the dead of night.  

For the first time in the history of the House, the CM simply went through the motions of ‘reading out’ the budget documents as opposition members that are expected to grill and roast him on budget proposals were missing from the scene. When opposition leader Digambar Kamat was asked to react on the budget the next day, all he could sheepishly mumble was that he had not read it. Since the concerned member was not in police custody, ideally they should have finished the business of the House first, instead of stalling it, and then proceeded with their protests.  

These days arguments and verbal clashes between treasury benches and the Opposition stem mainly from personal agendas and public issues raised are mostly a ruse to settle scores with one another.   

The government that talks of good governance as a priority has miserably failed to walk the talk. Budget presentation exercise in the state in recent years ritualistically takes the citizens on an aspirational roller coaster dream ride. Once the fabulous figure crunching on the occasion is over, there are no follow-ups to find out if all the sectors were fed the promised funds so projects could materialize on the ground as envisaged. It has now been revealed that only 30% of the budgeted amount has actually been spent in the present financial year, indicating thereby that the desired developments couldn’t have been carried out the way they were projected due to paucity of funds.   

Goa’s debt has steadily risen in recent years from twelve and half to above 20,000 crores. Our small state is in the company of those 20 states in the nation that have breached 25% of the gross state domestic product (GSDP) threshold.   

On one hand, government talks about setting up prestigious educational institutions of IIM, IIT and NIT caliber and strangely on the other, it has closed 367 schools in the state during the last thirty years. In other words students hailing from underprivileged strata have been denied basic education.   

Despite allocating increasing amounts to health sector over the years the hospital wards wear a sickly look that can further aggravate the conditions of patients. The initiatives taken up by Delhi state government on the education and health front are eyeopeners worthy of emulating.   

Shifting of floating casinos, mining resumption and Mhadei water diversion by the neighbouring state are the three major issues that have been consistently cropping up in every session in recent years but have remained unresolved every time, only to reappear in the next.   

Once every six months, the government extends stay of the flotilla of casinos in Mandovi and also informs the House that the government is on the lookout for a suitable alternative location to shift them. Though at long last, the government has appointed a gaming commissioner, is he going to sift through the large volume of transactions to zero in on spurious and suspicious transactions? Does he really possess the requisite machinery and expertise? Needless to say, hawala operators are invariably found buzzing in casino corridors. Like in western countries, the violators should either be asked to cough up fines up front under ‘plea bargaining’ like arrangements or hauled to the court of law. The state can get sizable revenue through recovering taxes and imposing fines if the commissioner is as proactive and vigilant as the traffic police collecting fines from the traffic violators.   

Most Goan gamblers have already gambled away their fortunes in the casinos. The ban on entry of residents has come a bit late.   

Coming to the timeworn mining issue, the government announcing recovery of Rs 2.99 crore from the alleged scamsters is a cruel joke. It is chicken feed compared with the colossal loss in the region of Rs 35,000 crore unearthed by the Shah commission that was set up to investigate the grand scam.   

That miniscule amount of recovery must have been eaten up by advocates’ fee, the salaries of special task force formed and the expenses incurred by the Shah commission itself. Why the government is reluctant to resume mining, like other Indian states, either by auctioning mining leases or by forming a corporation is a million dollar question.   

Our government has allocated Rs 50 crores to construct dams and reservoirs in the flow area of the river but the moot question is will there be water to justify that kind of outlay. Or the amount will be mostly used to pay the remuneration and foot travelling expenses of the advocates fighting almost a lost case and cause? It is now very obvious that the Union government is siding with the Karnataka government on the Mhadei issue as it finds it politically expedient and so chooses to ignore our state’s genuine concerns. During the ongoing litigation, the Karnataka government hasn’t been asked to stop developing infrastructure there. Ultimately the court taking cognizance of the huge amounts ‘already spent’ by them may advise to maintain status quo leaning on fait accompli.  

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