Chief Minister Pitches for Skill Education While Pointing To 50% Jobless Graduates

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, while pointing out that at least 50% of students remain unemployed upon completing their graduation, made a strong pitch for skill based education. He said that the New Educational Policy (NEP) would be implemented in Goa from the next academic year.

Sawant stated that skill education is the future for Goan students. “If we don’t provide skills to them when they graduate, they will not benefit. Over the past couple of years, several graduates have passed out from our colleges, but we have to ask ourselves whether we are producing quality graduates and how many of these are working towards their futures.”

Further, he stated that Goa is the best State in India as far as creation of infrastructure for the education sector and human resources is concerned, while proposing that innovative courses should be offered by various colleges in the State.

He also mentioned that Goa is the only State to offer grants-in-aid and infrastructure grants right from the pre-primary to the higher education level, and assured that vacant teachers’ posts would be filled within two to three months.

Goa Chamber seeks reduction of VAT on natural gas from 12.5% to 3%

Ralph de Sousa

Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has written to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant asking for value-added tax (VAT) on piped natural (PNG) for industrial use be reduced from 12.5% to 3%.

GCCI President Ralph de Sousa stated that the rate of VAT on natural gas in Goa is more than four times that levied in Maharashtra, and double the rate of other states such as Gujarat and Haryana.

Further, GCCI said that the considerable difference between VAT levied in Goa and in neighbouring states will put Goa’s industrial units at a disadvantage. It has also called for the inclusion of natural gas under the goods and services tax (GST) regime.

The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) said that the use of petcoke and furnace oil would be discontinued from December 31st.

GSPCB has recommended compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) as both LNG and CNG are taxed under VAT.

GCCI President further added that the manufacturing sector using PNG as a fuel, is primarily affected, as the inclusion under GST made it possible for them to claim the benefit of the amount of GST paid as input tax credit, and thus the GST cost was neutral. Since there is no VAT credit available on PNG, it would have a cascading effect on the final cost to consumers as well as make the products less competitive against those from other states.

Flood Causes Major Damage In Goa

Goa was hit by its worst floods since 1982, due to incessant rains in the third and fourth week of July. Water eventually receded from most areas amid spells of moderate to heavy rain in some parts on 23rd July.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said 4,000-5,000 houses had been affected by the flooding. The government’s assessment showed major damage to over 1,200 houses in nine of Goa’s 12 talukas.

Sattari and Bicholim in North Goa and Dharbandora in South Goa appeared to be the worst-hit. But later, the damage assessment showed that Ponda in South Goa was also among the worst-affected talukas. More than 500 homes were damaged with about 190 people evacuated to safety.

Chief Minister Sawant, who visited villages in Dharbandora, said: “About 100-150 houses (in Dharbandora) were submerged, almost everyone moved to the hilly parts. Our minister (PWD) Deepak Pauskar made arrangements and they were rescued and moved to safety. Many houses were under water, some right up to the roof, and people have suffered huge losses.” He said that the government will extend financial assistance to affected people.

In Sattari taluka – where 21 villages were affected by floods – a bridge collapsed in Paikul after Mhadei river waters rose alarmingly.

Deputy Chief Minister Chandrakant Kavlekar visited the historic Safa Masjid in Ponda after a wall of the 16th-century mosque collapsed following unrelenting rain.

“I have instructed the Archeological Survey of India to expedite the strengthening work. For now, only a support (structure) will be erected along the damaged wall. After the rains the restoration work will begin,” Kavlekar said.

Draft ODP for Vasco to be Challenged in Court

Goa Foundation has agreed to challenge in court the draft Outline Development Plan (ODP) 2030 for the Vasco planning area prepared by the Mormugao Planning and Development Authority (MPDA).

Goa Foundation director, Claude Alvares has assured help to stakeholders of Mormugao taluka which comes under the Vasco planning area.

The Chicalim Bio- Crusaders had invited Goa Foundation as well as other similar organisations and individuals who have raised various issues with the MPDA on the Draft ODP for a meeting.

Alvares was briefed by the participants on the ongoing ODP process and the illegalities observed in the Draft ODP 2030 prepared by the MPDA.

Issues like change of zone of the Chicalim Khazan, private forested areas, agriculture tenanted lands, no development zones were discussed in the meeting. It was unanimously decided to challenge the entire ODP exercise in the court with the assistance of Goa Foundation.

Further, Alvares requested the Chicalim Panchayat village development committee member Edwin Mascarenhas to prepare a chronology of the issues involved.

Cyril Fernandes, convenor of Chicalim Bio-Crusaders has been given the responsibility of identifying the organisations and individuals who will be party to the petition.

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