Chief Minister Nitish Kumar admitted on Thursday that despite his many forward-looking initiatives in the past four years, deficiencies in the delivery of public services remained the biggest governance issue facing Bihar.
"Where is the delivery? That's the issue", the chief minister said while addressing the session on 'Growth Opportunities in Bihar', at the 'Bihar Growth Day Workshop' organised here by the UK-based International Growth Centre (IGC).
He said delivery hiccups had prompted him to raise the issue of direct cash transfer to beneficiaries of welfare schemes with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. "Now this issue is being debated across the country", he added.
Nitish cited initiatives like reservation for women in Panchayati Raj institutions, job reservation for weaker sections and steps to gear up the health and education sectors as re-affirmation of his regime's commitment to inclusive growth.
Welcoming the IGC's initiative to set up an office in Patna, the chief minister expressed hope its research work would offer useful inputs for facilitating policy tweaks.
Nitish observed that the visits like the one by the IGC team served to add to Patna's growing international profile. "The day is not far when Patna will regain the glory it enjoyed in the days gone by", he stated.
Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said Bihar needed the latest technology for the farm sector and it offered good opportunities to potential investors in the field of food processing.
He said policy initiatives over the past four years had doubled fish production in the State from 400 kg per hectare to 800 kg per hectare and enhanced agricultural productivity.
Interestingly, the speaker who preceded him, University of Chicago Professor of Economics Chang-Tai Hsieh, had argued that improvement of productivity was not necessarily a good thing for equitable growth as it mainly benefited land-owners, leaving out the bulk of workers.
The workshop, including the session, was moderated by the IGC Co-Director Robin Burgess. The workshop participants included Chief Secretary Anup Mukherjee, Development Commissioner Navin Kumar, Principal Secretary (Health) C K Mishra, Principal Secretary (Animal Husbandry) Amitabh Verma, Principal Secretary (Labour Resources) Vyasji and IDC A K Sinha, Principal Secretary (Rural Development) Vijoy Prakash.