UPA Govt. committed to help Kerala to realise its full development potential: PM

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 11 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Friday said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the Centre is committed to help Kerala to realise its full development potential.

Inaugurating the Conference on Kerala Development - Vision 2025, Dr. Singh said: "The UPA government at the Centre has sanctioned several projects for the economic, social and educational development in the last six years or so. In the field of higher education we have made crucial investments. A new Central University has been set up in Kasargod. Two premier institutions, viz., Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and Indian Institute of Space Technology have been set up in Thiruvananthapuram. A centre of the Aligarh Muslim University is being set up in Mallapuram."

"However, the state must do more to improve its image as an investment friendly place. Entrepreneurs and Investors should see Kerala as an attractive destination. The area of labour relations in factories and enterprises all across Kerala is something we need to take a close look at. Investors should not feel discouraged because of the state of the labour environment. In fact wages for the workforce would automatically go up if it moves to high-end jobs after acquiring the requisite skills. This brings me to the need for skill development among the youth of Kerala," he added.

Dr. Singh said the Central Government has launched a skill development programme and constituted a National Skill Development Corporation with the aim of imparting skills to 500 million people by the year 2020.

"I would urge the government of Kerala and industry to find ways and means of deriving the maximum possible benefit from these initiatives so that a large number of the youth of Kerala can be more gainfully and productively employed," said Dr. Singh.

The Prime Minister further said Kerala must improve its performance both in power generation and distribution if it wants to create an environment truly conducive for industrialization.

"There is a lot which needs to be done to improve Kerala's physical infrastructure. For example, while the density of roads in the State is much higher than the national average, their quality leaves much to be desired. There are contentious issues, which need to be resolved before the task of improving, and expanding the road infrastructure can be undertaken in full measure. Electric power is another area where much more needs to be done," he said.

Dr. Singh said Kerala also must be prepared to address certain demographic challenges.

"The longevity in Kerala is high and the birth rate is low. This brings us to the problem of providing old-age security. The high dependence on foreign remittances, which are extremely vulnerable to international economic developments creates its own problems. As a result, domestic consumption could be severely impacted. Similarly the retirement age of 55 years in the Government renders people jobless relatively early," said Dr. Singh.

The ability of the State to provide old-age security is limited by the hard budget constraints. Further, it would not be possible for the old to migrate to other parts of the country for new opportunities. It is in this context that Kerala must face up to these challenges by accelerating the pace of economic reforms and creating an enabling environment for private investment to create new employment generating opportunities within the State. The State government needs to do much more in these areas," he added. (ANI)

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