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Punjab top beneficiary list under Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana

Launched in October 2020, ABRY aimed to incentivise employers for the creation of new jobs and the reinstatement of retrenched workers during Covid

economy, trade, self-reliance, aatmanirbhar, protectionism, manufacturing, growth, exports, imports

Illustration: Ajay Mohanty

Shiva Rajora New Delhi

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Punjab is the leading beneficiary among states under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY), a scheme initiated by the Centre during the pandemic to give a fillip to formal employment.

According to data, one in every five active Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) subscribers in the state joined the workforce.

Rameshwar Teli, minister of state, labour and employment, in a written response to a Lok Sabha query on Monday, stated that 20.1 per cent of formal workers in Punjab had benefited from the central scheme until July 18 this year.

They were followed by beneficiaries in Himachal Pradesh (19.1 per cent), Rajasthan (18.9 per cent), Gujarat (15.4 per cent), and Madhya Pradesh (14.2 per cent).

However, Maharashtra (978,308), Tamil Nadu (817,315), Gujarat (643,573), and Karnataka (486,278) topped the list in terms of total number of beneficiaries under the scheme.

Launched in October 2020, ABRY aimed to incentivise employers for the creation of new jobs and the reinstatement of retrenched workers during Covid.

Originally intended to benefit a total of 7.2 million workers until June 2021, the registration deadline for beneficiaries under the scheme was extended to March 2022. Approximately 7.5 million people have registered under the scheme.

The minister told the House that, “Since the scheme’s inception, as of July 18, 2023, benefits worth Rs 9,640.43 crore have been provided to 6.04 million beneficiaries via 152,000 establishments in the country.”

The central government spent Rs 405 crore and Rs 5,000 crore in financial years 2020-21 and 2021-22, respectively, on the scheme, and an additional Rs 4,636 crore in 2022-23. Earlier this year, the government allocated Rs 2,272 crore for the scheme in FY24.

Under the ABRY, for new employees earning a monthly wage below Rs 15,000, the government pays both the employees’ and the employers’ contribution towards EPF for two years, which amounts to 24 per cent of wages. This is applicable for establishments employing up to 1,000 workers. For establishments with more than 1,000 workers, the government only paid the employees’ share of EPF contribution, or 12 per cent of wages, for new staff members.

In terms of states that benefited least from the scheme, Bihar was the number one, with only 2.4 per cent of active employees covered. It was followed by Assam (5.5 per cent), Delhi (5.7 per cent) and Karnataka (6.5 per cent).

Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder of TeamLease Services, said that ABRY had played a crucial role in the formalisation of the workforce, particularly post-pandemic. It incentivised many employers to include informal workers on their regular payrolls.

Chakraborty added, “The government should consider extending the scheme for some more time, although it alone would not suffice to kickstart fresh formal job creation, which is still a challenge for the economy.”

Earlier this month, the parliamentary standing committee report on labour had emphasised the need for revisiting the eligibility conditions specified under the scheme.

This would ensure that the benefits are effectively extended to all the employers/employees who are left out and had registered under the scheme, as nearly 1.5 million registrants are yet to receive the benefits.

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First Published: Jul 28 2023 | 7:00 PM IST

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