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Agriculture will put Telangana economy on track amid lock-down.

 Agriculture will put Telangana economy on track amid lock-down.

Hyderabad: Opening up agriculture, and non-agriculture self-employment sectors, reducing pressure on vulnerable sections of society and setting up an Economic Response Task Force (CETF) are some of the ways suggested for the speedy recovery of lockdown that affected the State economy.

A study by E Revathi, C Ravi and P Aparna of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS) has suggested certain short and long term measures for the revival of the economy, which was enjoying fast economic growth since 2014.

The State government declared lockdown from March 22. As a result, the poorer sections were hit hard. As the State was deprived of ‘socio-economic development’ till bifurcation, the State took heavy investment for building economic infrastructure on priority. An important outcome of providing irrigation at a massive level is the surge in the food grain production. However, the total lockdown impacted mostly the MSMEs and service sector as their activities operate in the informal sector.

The CESS study estimated that the per day loss in production in the economy due to lockdown works out to be Rs 1,784 crore. Most of this loss was incurred in the industry and service sectors of the economy. The three sectors – manufacturing, trade and repair services and real estate together suffered a loss of nearly Rs 1,200 crore per day. The total loss for the entire period of lockdown (March 23 to April 30) would be around 70,000 crore. This accounts for 7.9 per cent of the GSDP (based on the GSDP of 2019-20).

The revival of economy can start with agriculture and non-agriculture self-employment segments which can still maintain social distancing and need not travel more than a radius of 10-20 km. The needed investment has to be pumped by the State. Some specific welfare as well as revival include, cash payments, allow movement of agriculture labour so that they could participate in crop harvesting.

Self-employed enterprises in the unorganized sector also can be allowed to function with on and off systems after due discussions with the employers. Small loans can be given to SHG women on soft interests for carrying out production activities based out of households. Most food processing can happen this way which also ensures continuous supply of food.

Power loom and handloom sector can be roped in to prepare suitable material for masks and PPE while SHG women can stitch them. Registered construction workers may be given relief of Rs 3,000 from the Cess collected by the construction Workers Welfare Boards as directed by the Union Ministry of Labour. The study also suggested a separate portal can be started to register the unorganised sector workers to transfer cash under DBT platform.

The State Government was also advised to start a Covid 19 Economic Response Task Force (CETF) similar to the government of India to take up quantification of impact of Covid-19- assessing damage and loss to economy , to assess loss of livelihoods and work out calibrated relief measures to impacted sectors and to help revive various sectors of the economy.

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