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Inputs from stakeholders crucial for formulating economic revival strategy: SERC chairman

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 12:45 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 07:10 [IST]

Inputs from stakeholders crucial for formulating economic revival strategy: SERC chairman

BIJOY GURUNG
GANGTOK: The State Economic Revival Committee (SERC) is holding daily meetings with government departments this week and then have extensive engagements with private stakeholders on the post-lockdown way forward for Sikkim.
“The first phase is to have meetings with government departments because they have the data and will be able to give us first-hand information. We are going to hold the departmental hearings on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and then we are going to talk with all the stakeholders. It is through the inputs of the stakeholders and government departments and opinions from sectoral experts that we would be forming a structure and submit our recommendations to the government,” said SERC chairman Sonam Venchungpa.
Venchungpa, also the Martam-Rumtek legislator, had been appointed as the SERC committee announced by Chief Minister P.S. Golay on May 14.
The committee has been tasked to assess both long term and short term impact of the lockdown on all sectors of the State’s economy after holding consultations with all stakeholders concerned. The committee is to take into account the existing overall scenario, the economic stimulus package announced by the Centre and dovetail the same for preparing a plan of action for Sikkim. It is to suggest measures, interventions and strategies for revival of the State’s economy, post lockdown.
The SERC has State chief economic advisor Prof. Mahendra P. Lama, Chief Minister’s Economic & Political Advisor C.L. Denzongpa, Finance additional chief secretary V.B. Pathak, Commerce & Industries special secretary Mrinalini Shrivastava and Dr. O.P. Dhakal (Professor, Medicine, SMIMS) as members. Planning & Development secretary Sonam Lepcha is the member secretary.
Speaking with SIKKIM EXPRESS on Tuesday, Venchungpa said the committee will be ‘very open’ to the suggestions given by the stakeholders.
“Those who are in the business and are the stakeholders will be able to give us the correct inputs. We are not sectoral experts, the committee will express its views but it will be better if we get views from the sectoral experts. Based on their inputs and feedback, we will refine our strategy and submit to the government.”
The SERC is to submit its report within one month.
Regarding the mandate given to the committee, the SERC chairman said all sectors have been adversely impacted due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown including tourism, which is the economic mainstay of Sikkim. We have to understand how much losses the tourism industry suffered and how we can address it, he said.
The Rs. 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package announced by the Centre for the nation would also be given focus by the SERC.
“For a State government, the best would be that the Centre gives some financial package. But the Centre has also lost a lot of money (during the lockdown) in terms of indirect taxation and may not have the financial resources to sustain this kind of package. The Centre is giving relaxation on credits, one year moratorium and other reliefs focusing on the medium and small scale industries and jumpstart their operations in terms of working capital.”
As a committee, our view is that whatever is given to us, we must exploit those schemes from the Centre and strategize on how to give a new look to the economic sector of Sikkim, said Venchungpa. If it (Central schemes) is not enough, we can present a separate case to the Centre for a financial package for Sikkim, he said.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi