Punjab Vichar Forum, a think tank comprising economists and academicians, Thursday blamed the "lack of political will" in addressing problems like farm crisis, unemployment, deceleration in economic growth that were afflicting the state.
"There is no political will in addressing the problems being faced by Punjab," convener of the forum, Ranjit Singh Ghuman said here.
"The irony of the situation is that there is neither a road map nor comprehensive policies to address concerns like farm crisis, unemployment etc," he added.
An economic professor at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development here, Guman said the forum was set up to provide a non-partisan platform to discuss and debate politico-economic and socio-cultural concerns of Punjab.
"The forum shall spread awareness among the people and sensitise the political leadership and bureaucracy so that Punjab is put back on fast development track," Ghuman said.
Pointing out the main problems being faced by state, Ghuman said Punjab's economic growth rate was lower than the national average since early 1990s.
"In terms of per capita income Punjab is behind 11 states and UTs. Over the decades, the accumulated debt to on the government has reached to Rs 2.11 lakh crore in addition to another liability of Rs 31,000 crore related to food grain procurement," he said.
"A sizeable amount of government's revenue is going in debt servicing," he added.
The government is left with no option but to generate more loans to meet its committed and promised liabilities which shall further add to the debt burden, he said further.
On farm crisis, Ghuman said farmers and labourers were committing suicide because of debt burden.
"Since the year 2000, 16,600 framers and farm labourers have committed suicides largely because of debt burden. The provision of free electricity alone will not solve the agrarian crisis," he said.
"The agriculture and water policies, still in the pipeline, need to be put in place at the earliest possible," he added.
As far as industrial sector is concerned, it is either stagnating or decelerating, said Ghuman adding, "investment climate has not been very encouraging and new investment has been feeling shy of coming to Punjab."
On employment front, Ghuman said as per the rough estimates, there are 22 to 25 lakh unemployed youth in Punjab.
"The unemployed and incremental labour force is not being absorbed and hence unemployment is increasing at a fast pace. The quality of employment in the informal sector is very poor; even the formal and public sector employment is being non-formalised," he said.
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