By H H Mohrmen
Conrad K Sangma the Chief Minister of Meghalaya went gung-ho with the MDA government’s new program called CM-ELEVATE. The importance of the program as such is that Sangma made it a point to personally launch this program at least in all three regions of the state. Recently he was in Jowai to launch the program. The CM Elevate is at least like a bouquet where all government schemes and projects are in one place. It is a convergence of all the government schemes that are intended to support the citizens of the state particularly the youths.
Partnering with Youths
The official document states that CM Elevate is a State-funded flagship program, aiming at making the youth partners in development by engaging and empowering them through entrepreneurship. At the launching of the program, the Chief Minister also mentioned the important statistic that every year about 70,000 young men and women enter the workforce in the state. However, the different schemes in the programs are not targeted at the youth only. Apart from supporting individual entrepreneurs, the schemes also aim at supporting the collectives, village organizations, and traditional institutions to partner with the government and take up the various businesses offered as part of the program. The success of these schemes also depends on the support of the banks and other financial institutions. To financially assist such initiatives and ensure easy access and affordable credit to aspiring entities, the Government of Meghalaya has partnered with various public and private sector banks.
Loans and Credit support
The government cannot provide government jobs to all the youths of the state hence the objective of the program is to encourage entrepreneurship among youth by providing them with necessary access to capital in getting a business off the ground. To improve access to loans the government also understands the potential risks associated with credit flow such as financial instability, over-indebtedness, etc., and to minimize risks, the government provides necessary financial assistance ranging between 35% and 75% of the project cost in the form of capital subsidy and operational subsidy as EMI co-payment.
Entrepreneurship to increase Employment
In an attempt to produce more job creators than job seekers, the government is encouraging entrepreneurship and helping existing businesses to increase their capacities. The program also intends to create jobs to cater to the growing local population by providing easy access the much needed credit to the entrepreneurs. Emphasis is given to produce entrepreneurs who would then create job for others. It is part of the program that the entrepreneurs will not only be provided with financial support but will also be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills. This will be through various capacity-building programs and training needed to successfully implement and run their businesses.
How the Program is implemented
The nodal department for the implementation of the different schemes is the Planning, Investment Promotion & Sustainable Development Department and the implementation will be one by the department or agencies. The departments and agencies include the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, the Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Department, the Tourism Department, and the Meghalaya Basin Management Agency.
Tourism receives the major thrust in the Program
The CM Elevate program lays major emphasis on the development of tourism since it is seen as the major employment creator in the state. One of the schemes under the tourism department is the PRIME Tourism Vehicle in which the government provides financial aid to entrepreneurs to buy any passenger vehicle with a 50 % subsidy. The package also includes training in the basic etiquette of the drivers and owners of the vehicles. Another important tourism-related scheme under the program is Agro-Tourism villa which is a form of financial aid to entrepreneurs to build luxury villas to the tune of Rs 1 crore with 35 % subsidy. The project under tourism with a bigger subsidy is the construction of Homestays which fetch a subsidy of 70% for business in the rural areas and 60% for setting up a homestays in the urban areas. Last but not least scheme under the tourism sector provides financial aid to entrepreneurs wishing to operate a Motor Caravan and a 50% subsidy or Rs 25 lakh monetary support will be provided by the government.
Support to those
engaged in Agriculture
Support for those engaged in agriculture include the Prime Agriculture Response Vehicles which is financial support in the form of a subsidy up to 50%, and for installing poly houses is also up to 50% financial support. There is also a scheme to construct a warehouse which is gives a 75% subsidy. The scheme is implemented by MBMA. This is a much-needed intervention because right now farmers’ produce like turmeric, ginger, and broomsticks are at the mercy of the traders because of the lack of such infrastructure. MBMA also provides financial support for establishing the Common Facility Centre again with a 75 % subsidy.
Meghalaya Piggery development for establishing pig farms, Meghalaya Dairy development for establishment of cattle farms and a scheme to promote goat farming and poultry farming etc., are provided 50% subsidy support. Traditional cattle farming for meat production should also be promoted. The program also promotes the construction of a 200-seater Cinema Theatre with 35% or 1 crore or 35% or 50 lakhs for a 100-seater with MBMA as the implementing agency. This will perhaps help in promoting local talents who are engaged in making local films and also also artistes.
A support of Rs 1 crore or 35% of the project is also provided for the establishment of wellness centers. The program also promotes construction, maintenance, and running of Swimming Pools with value additions like indoor games, spas, and gyms. Any business venture is another scheme in the program that gives 35% or up to 17.5 lakhs subsidy for the entrepreneur who wishes to establish any business venture. Businesses such as restaurants; food trucks; theatre and drama training centers; center for performing arts; music studios for recording and production; music & dance school comprising of Indian, and Western Classical forms; warehouse for packaging, branding, and storage; local handicraft and handloom units; and any other unit not listed fall in this category.
A step in the
In a nutshell, the program envisages accelerating and sustaining the economic development of the state through entrepreneurship development, job creation, infrastructure development, tourism promotion, and investing in businesses to increase capacity and expand potential. The initiative should be appreciated and hopefully, this will provide the much-needed impetus for business growth and benefit the state in terms of its economic, social, and overall well-being But the million-dollar question is – can the state achieve the much talked about goal of a USD 10 billion economy by 2030?
The Challenge to the
USD 10 Billion Economy
On the day the Chief Minister launched CM-ELEVATE at Jowai, he said that the program is envisioned at achieving the government’s vision to achieve a USD 10 Billion economy by 2030. When I discussed the government’s vision with a young Marwari friend who has lived in Shillong for several generations, he jokingly asked me if I knew how many zeros there are in a billion, to which I answered in the negative. He then added we have not even calculated it by the exchange rate of rupees to the US dollar which will be more than 80 times. It is true that for the economy of the state to grow, the government needs to ensure that there is security and ease of doing business for all sections of the society in the state. The question that the government needs to ask itself is if it is actually providing the much-needed environment for business to grow in the state.
The most important question is : Are we being realistic in setting our goal? Can the state achieve the goal by merely implementing the CM Elevate program? Obviously, the answer to the question is “No”. Is the goal of reaching USD 10 billion achievable in just 7 years?
The answer is blowing in the wind.