This article first appeared in Business Standard on 4 July, 2017.
The goods and service tax (GST) has not only helped the country see an overhaul of the indirect tax system but may also provide an important source of data for job surveys.
The task force headed by Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya is likely to suggest carrying out both household and enterprise surveys with data on GST Network (GSTN) to be taken as a sample for part of the latter survey to gauge the job market.
The panel was set up as the current surveys by the Labour Bureau and the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) do not provide an accurate estimation of the employment numbers.
The panel may submit its report to the Prime Minister soon.
The task force will recommend using registrations and enrollments on GSTN as a sample size for enterprise survey, to be conducted annually. So far over 6.5 million assesses have registered on GSTN, sources said.
However, high-frequency data — monthly or quarterly — might be conducted on the subset of GSTN survey, sources said. The ministry of statistics and programme implementation and the labour ministry will work out modalities for this survey, sources said.
Since those with a turnover of up to Rs 20 lakh a year and own-account companies are not required to register with GSTN, the panel might suggest continuing with economic census every three years. There should be an annual survey for those companies not registered with GSTN, taking sample size from the census, the task force might recommend. However, the database would be collected from sources other than the census as well, sources said.
It may also suggest making GSTN the universal establishment number and income tax-based permanent account number embedded with GSTN the universal enterprise number. It is also likely to recommend extending GSTN to all commercial and non-commercial entities. It may suggest implementing this recommendation within 12 months to create a modern frame for enforcement, regulation and research.
The task force might also suggest estimating the number of formalisation of jobs by taking help of data with the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), National Pension System (NPS) and Employees' State Insurance or other medical insurance schemes. However, a care should be taken to avoid overlap and an interpretation that additions to these schemes would mean the creation of jobs.
The panel may also recommend conducting household surveys by the NSSO every three years against the current practice of five years. To increase the frequency of the surveys, it may suggest taking help of new technology such as using tablets, online surveys etc.
For frequent surveys, it might suggest annual household surveys with quarterly ones on urban areas to be undertaken by the Labour Bureau.
It may also suggest carrying out a survey on takers of Mudra loans as these are important sources of job creation.
At present, while the Labour Bureau does a sample survey of enterprises, the NSSO conducts a survey on households. The Labour Bureau surveys are very small. They cover only 30 million employees but the labour force in the country, including agriculture labourers, is over 470 million.
The Labour Bureau has improved its quarterly survey of employment. Earlier, it used to take eight sectors — textiles including apparel, leather, metals, automobiles, gems and jewellery, transport, information technology/business process outsourcing (IT/BPO), and handloom/powerloom. It still takes eight sectors but these are much wider — manufacturing, construction, trade, transport, education, health, accommodation and restaurants, and IT/BPO.
According to the latest survey, the rate of increase in employment in the eight key sectors fell in October-December 2016, with the addition of only 32,000 as against 77,000 workers in July-September 2016.