The government has been showing a burst of speed after the long lull under which it remained during the period the election code of conduct was in force.
In a day of inspections – despite it being a holiday – Chief Minister Pramod Sawant visited development projects from the new Zuari bridge to the road projects in Canacona, assuring that deadlines would be met, that people’s concerns would be considered and alleviated and that the common man will not suffer. Later the same day he announced a single window system of clearance for industry, a demand that has been pending fulfilment for long. A day earlier the chief minister set a new deadline to meet the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, and called upon taxi operators to join the app-based service. Until now it had all been sluggish, with almost nothing moving. That has changed.
But, advancing the deadline to meet the ODF status has to be backed by action on the ground, otherwise Goa could possibly remain the only State not to be ODF by October 2, 2019. That would be shameful for a State that is highly literate, tiny in size, with a small and manageable population, highly urbanised and an international tourist destination. Can the government that for the past four years has taken this project on a snail’s pace, not speed up? Similarly, the deadline for the Zuari bridge completion and for setting up a single window clearance has to be backed by action. Otherwise they will remain merely assurances.
The slow pace at which the government has moved can be accurately gauged by the fact that five months into 2019, the Legislative Assembly has met just thrice and for four days. Of these, two sessions were special ones – one at which the House reposed its confidence in the new government headed by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, and the second was to elect Rajesh Patnekar as Speaker. The two-day session in January was hurriedly called to meet the Constitutional requirement of a session within six months of the end of the previous session, and at which was passed a vote on account to keep the wheels of government moving. The Chief Minister has now announced that a 15-day session of the Assembly will be held in July.
This July session of the Legislative Assembly will be quite important, as it will discuss and pass the Finance Bill and take up bills and issues that have been pending for want of a session. To make up for the lost time, the sitting of the July session could still be extended in order to give the MLAs a chance to raise in the Asembly issues affecting the people, and so that all government bills and policies will be thoroughly discussed.
For, it is not just development of infrastrucutre that Goa and Goans desire from the government. There are various other issues and concerns, which can be best brought up in the Assembly, debated and then decided upon. Changes to policies and amendments to Acts are pending, that require to have the government and the opposition thinking on the same lines, failing which there arises a controversy over the simplest of decisions. Take for instance the shifting of the offshore casino vessels out of River Mandovi, the changes in the fish import guidelines. While these would be government decisions, presenting these in the Assembly session and debating the pros and cons will reduce the friction that could emerge at a later date.
Speed matters, but the processes too must be followed, and people’s opinions on issues heard. The balance on both has to be struck, failing which there will always be misgivings leading to polemics that will slow down the projects.