Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday expressed concern over the declining job growth between 2004-05 and 2011-12 — roughly the period of United Progressive Alliance governments compared to the period between 1999-00 to 2004-05, coinciding with the previous National Democratic Alliance regime — and assured trade unions of government’s commitment to generate more employment opportunities for the common man.
Interacting with representatives of trade unions for pre-Budget interactions, Jaitley said a cause for concern is that the compound annual growth rate of employment decelerated during 2004-05 to 2011-12 to 0.5 per cent, as compared to the 2.8 per cent growth during 1999-2000 to 2004-05.
He also assured the trade unions of not going for privatising the Railways and Coal India. Jaitley said the government aims at safeguarding the existing jobs and give better environment to the common man. The finance minister said that’s why more money is needed for investment in infrastructure to create more job opportunities for the youth.
He said the government wants to create better social security system for the labour force working both in organised and unorganised sectors. Highlighting the major initiatives of his government in labour sector, he also informed the trade unions that states such as Rajasthan have also introduced major reforms in three labour legislations — the Industrial Disputes Act, the Factories Act and the Contract Labour Act. Trade union leaders demanded an increase in income tax exemption ceiling for salaried class to Rs 5 lakh in the upcoming Budget.
They also demanded that disinvestment in profit-making public sector units be stopped forthwith and budgetary support should be given for revival of potentially viable sick CPSUs.
Representatives of 11 trade unions also opposed foreign direct investment in crucial sectors like defence production.
They also asked the government to take effective measures to contain inflation. A ban on forward trading in commodities and rationlisation of tax/cess/duty on petroleum products were some their other demands.
"We also expressed our serious concern and dismay over the manner the government has been pushing various major economic policy related decisions through promulgation of Ordinances. In particular, we opposed the Ordinance on the coal, insurance sectors and Land Acquisition Act...we demand all such Ordinances should be withdrawn forthwith," All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) Secretary D L Sachdev told reporters after the meeting.
A joint statement by the 11 unions said: "Concrete steps must be taken to recover huge accumulated unpaid arrears, which have already crossed Rs 5 lakh crore on direct and corporate tax accounts alone."
The trade unions also suggested that the scope of the MGNREGA be expanded to agriculture operations and urban areas.
They also said special investigation team constituted for unearthing black money must deliver visible result, which is yet to be seen.
Representatives from the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Indian National Trade Union Congress and AITUC attended the meeting.