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Railways should commercially exploit land for revenue: Economic Survey

New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) The mid-year Economic Survey has recommended a slew of reforms in various sectors, including monetising land for revenue generation in Railways and privatisation of Air India.

The Economic Survey Volume II 2016-17 tabled in the Parliament on Friday suggested that reforms such as privatisation/ disinvestment of Air India, creation of aviation hubs and reconsidering the 0/20 rule are some suggestions to improve Indian airlines’ share in the international market.

For Railways, the Survey suggested no-fare sources, station redevelopment and commercial exploitation of the vacant buildings at the station and land along tracks by leasing out to promote horticulture, tree plantation, advertisement and parcel earnings.

The document stated that it is required to develop non-major port and enhance their efficiency and operational capacity as during the last few years the non-major ports are gaining more share of cargo handling compared to major ports.

It said that in the agricultural and allied sector, which face price risk, marketing infrastructure along the entire value chain needs to be built and strengthened.

“Managing and reducing the various risks in agriculture activities can make the sector resilient, increase profitability and can ensure stable income flows to the farmers,” the Economic Survey said.

The document recommended a number of reforms for increasing the productivity in agriculture.

To address production risks, the share of irrigated area should be expanded by increasing the coverage of water saving irrigation systems like micro irrigation systems. To increase productivity of crops, standards should be set and enforced for better quality, pest and disease resistant seeds, it said.

“Trade and domestic policy changes should be announced well before sowing and should stay till arrivals and procurement is over. To enhance women’s involvement in the dairy projects, funds should be earmarked through appropriate mechanisms.

“Providing timely and affordable formal and institutional credit to the small and marginal farmers is the key to inclusive growth. Regime based on timely interventions needs to be adopted,” the document stated.

It noted that India is emerging as a knowledge based economy, poised for double digit growth and needs to strengthen social infrastructure by investing in health and education.

For the education sector, the Survey suggested designing of the policies with focus on learning outcomes and remedial education with interventions which work and maximise the efficiency of expenditure.

“There is need for bio-metric attendance of school staff, independent setting of examination papers, neutral examination and for Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for schools. There is need to adopt outcome measures for the education and skilling activities to ensure improvement in delivery of schemes/ programmes,” it said.

In order to make the labour market system dynamic and efficient, the government has taken several reforms/initiatives, both legislative as well as technological such as notification of ‘Ease of Compliance to maintain Registers under various Laws Rules, 2017’ and introduction of e-Biz Portal. “These registers/forms can also be maintained in a digitised form,” it suggested.

Government has been imparting short-term skill training through Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) and long term training through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). Model Skill Centers are being set up in every district of the country under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra Scheme.

“The emphasis is on enhancing the quality of skill training programmes and making a competency-based framework with giving individuals an option to progress through education, training, prior learning and experiences,” it said.

For reforming the health sector, the Survey stated that there needs to be concerted efforts by the central and state governments to address quality issues like standardising rates for diagnostic tests, generating awareness about alternative health systems and introduction of punitive measures like fines on hospitals and private health providers for false claims through surgery and medicines.

For more equitable access to health services, government should provide health benefits and risk cover to poorer sections of the society, it said.

The government has formulated the National Health Policy, 2017, which aims at attaining good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all developmental policies and universal access to good quality health care services, without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence.

Addressing the social security of large number of vulnerable workers in the informal economy should also be prioritised by the government along with ensuring the safety and security of women to raise their participation in economic activities, the Survey noted.

–IANS
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