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World Bank lauds Orissa’s progress

india Updated: May 20, 2008 23:46 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik

A world Bank report titled Orissa in Transition: From fiscal turnaround to rapid and inclusive growth, which was released in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday, has commended the state’s transformation from a “seriously lagging state” to a “state in transition”.

The report has said, “Private investments under implementation in Orissa are massive, at about $125 billion, almost three times the annual Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). This suggests it is possible that Orissa may experience a period of more rapid growth than has been seen in any state in the history of Independent India”.

According to the report, the acceleration of Orissa’s economic growth is faster than the rest of India since 2003. “Over the past seven years, the primary fiscal balance has been converted from a deficit of 5.9 per cent of GSDP to a surplus of 2.8 per cent — a correction by 8.7 percentage points, stronger than in any other Indian state,” the report has said.

The World Bank report has further said, “Double-digit growth since 2003, spurred by investment in metal industries, has had a multiplier effect throughout the economy. Opportunities for nonagricultural self-employment, as well as wage employment, have expanded. A remarkable fiscal turnaround, achieved through the state’s own efforts and complemented by performance-linked support from the Central government and external donors, has created space for developmental initiatives and high-priority public investments by the government of Orissa.” The report, however, has raised its concerns over whether the poor and hitherto excluded, such as the scheduled tribes (22 per cent of the population and 40 per cent of the poor), who live in remote villages located in hilly terrain, will gain or lose from the market-driven growth process.

The gap between Orissa and the rest of India in per-capita income narrowed during 2000–06, after having widened during the past five decades. Regional inequalities within Orissa have also narrowed between 1999-2000 and 2004-05, according to latest available National Sample Survey data on household consumption expenditures.

A wide cross-section of the population, including scheduled castes, has gained from the expansion in income-earning opportunities since 2000. However, the poorest 40 per cent of the population has gained much less than the better-off 60 per cent, and most of the scheduled tribes are part of this poorest 40 per cent and continue to lag behind, the report said.