Government think-tank NITI Aayog has pitched for creating two coastal employment zones on the lines of a Chinese strategy to promote exports and create jobs. The Aayog in its three-year draft action agenda has suggested that coastal employment zones (CEZs), one on the east coast and other on the west coast, should have more liberal and business-friendly economic environment. “India must replicate Chinese strategy by creating two Coastal Employment Zones, one on the east coast and other on the west coast. Limiting the initial number of CEZs to two will ensure that limited resources are not spread thinly over too many zones,” the draft action agenda said.
“Moreover, a focused approach has better chances of capturing agglomeration economies and producing results over a relatively short time,” it added. The zones would provide a business friendly ecosystem including ease of doing business, especially, ease of exporting and importing, swift decisions on applications for environmental clearances and speedy water and electricity connections. Apart from conventional infrastructure, the zones would need to create urban spaces to house local resident workforce.
The action agenda, which will replace the five-year planning system emphasised that social subsidies should be reoriented so that beneficiary become economically independent instead of remaining perpetual dependent on them. “Open ended schemes that can absorb ever-rising expenditure and lack clearly identifies beneficiary must be avoided,” it said. Noting that the smooth implementations of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and related reforms will help facilitate travel and tourism, the draft agenda said, “We should consider placing tourism in the lower tax bracket of the GST to ensure competitiveness with foreign destinations.”
Referring to agriculture, it said that the reform of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMC) Act needs a new lease of life. Farmers should get genuine rights for direct sales to buyers of all commodities, potential buyers should get the rights to buy produce directly from farmers, entry of private agricultural markets should be free, the draft agenda said,adding”an effective legal framework for contract farming should be established.”
There has been an excessive focus on the procurement of wheat, rice and sugarcane at the expense of other crops such as pulses, oilseed and coarse grains, it said as Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) have distorted cropping patterns due to their use in certain commodities in selected regions. “These distortions have led to the depletion of water resources, soil degradation and deterioration in water quality in the north-west,” it observed.