Citing data from provident fund, Income Tax filings and National Pension System (NPS), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said crores of new jobs have been created in the formal and unorganised sectors, including transport, hotels and infrastructure, although this may not be captured in official data.
Modi’s rebuttal, during his reply to the motion of thanks on the President’s address in the Lok Sabha, came amid allegations of rising unemployment. According to the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) periodic labour force survey (PLFS), which was expected to be released last December but has been held back, the country’s unemployment rate in 2017-18 was at its highest level at 6.1 per cent since 1972-73.
Modi said the informal sector accounts for 85-90 per cent of employment, while the formal sector provides only 10-15 per cent employment. He said that in the 15 months till November 2018, 1.8 crore people got enrolled in the Employees Provident Fund for the first time. Of these, 64 per cent were below 28 years of age, he said.
While 65 lakh employees were part of the NPS in 2014, this increased to 1.2 crore by October 2018, he said. About 6.35 lakh new professionals filed I-T returns in the last four years. “Isn’t this indication of job creation,” he asked. He said data on sale of commercial vehicles and cabs also indicate job creation in transport and tourism sectors.
On his government’s overall economic performance, he said India has seen significant progress in the last four years on many parameters. “We have become the second largest steel producer, second largest mobile phone manufacturer, fourth largest automobile manufacturer in the world. We are a nation with a bumper harvest production,” he said.
What the present government has achieved over the last 55 months or four-and-a-half years is way ahead of what was achieved in 55 years, he said. “Sanitation coverage has crossed 98 per cent, over 10 crore toilets have been built for our people. In 55 years, 12 crore gas connection were given. In the last 55 months, 13 crore gas connections were given and 6 crore were Ujjwala. The speed of the work done and for whom the work was done, you decide for yourself.” he said.
The government tried to instil the fear of law in the minds of illegal operators, shell companies and defaulters, he said. Many people are now getting caught for having benami properties, he said. About 20,000 NGOs have shut operations after the government sought details of their funding and these numbers may increase in future, he said.
The government has tried to tackle the problem of the legacy of non-performing assets, he said. Modi said his government has kept inflation under control — largely around 4 per cent.
Ahead of elections, Modi also highlighted India’s balanced foreign policy approach, especially in West Asia. Speaking on India’s foreign policy, he said: “India will be friends with both Israel and Palestine. India will be friends with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. Our foreign policy has led to India’s voice becoming stronger on the world stage. Also, I am happy that after our efforts, other parties are also reaching out to NRIs.”
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in her intervention, said Pakistan has been isolated and its grey-listing at the Financial Action Task Force is an achievement for India.