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Sunday, June 07, 2020

Panel proposes land pooling to corporatise agri, merging MNREGA with skilling programmes

The draft proposes that the land pooling model which is used in building greenfield airports can be used in agriculture to enable corporatisation, which will create demand for skilled labourers.

Written by Shyamlal Yadav | New Delhi | Updated: May 14, 2020 7:39:01 am
The GoM, headed by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, was created last week. It is now ready with the draft proposals, which will be approved on Thursday before being sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sources said. (File Photo)

A LAND pooling model enabling corporatisation of agriculture, opening up EPF and ESIC for the unorganised sector, merging the MNREGA with skill development programmes to create a wage subsidy programme —- these are some of the proposals that have been drafted by a Group of Ministers (GOM) on employment and skill development.

The GoM, headed by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, was created last week. It is now ready with the draft proposals, which will be approved on Thursday before being sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sources said.

The draft proposes that the land pooling model which is used in building greenfield airports can be used in agriculture to enable corporatisation, which will create demand for skilled labourers.

It suggests merging the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Act (MNREGA) with skill development programmes to create a wage subsidy programme, where the MNREGA amount is extended to companies as wage subsidy for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME). It also suggests that works in private enterprises such as factories, construction sites and shops can be considered as eligible work under MNREGA. This will lower the cost of wages and make industries competitive, creating a local employment wave, the draft says.

To help SMEs, it suggests that the RBI can cut reverse repo rate to 0 per cent for a few months, thus incentivising banks to lend more. Banks can also use GST credits as collateral and lend against them, it suggests. It also proposes establishment of a venture capital fund for SMEs.

To provide rental accommodation to migrant workers, the panel suggests development and maintenance of rental housing facilities at government and private levels.

It talks of opening up EPF and ESIC for the unorganised sector by registering workers on agreeing to make contributions. Every migrant worker should be automatically enrolled in PMJAY and have access to cashless medical facilities in the place of work, the panel suggests.

There is also a suggestion to create a new Department of Hygiene to ensure hygienic practices, which should be made mandatory in all organisations, government or private, and public places. This too has huge employment potential, the panel asserts.

The GoM has proposed a Social Distancing Protocol, which shall be embedded in the functioning of enterprises, and recommends a task force of health experts and industry representatives within a week to decide this protocol.

Suggesting that food processing should be given “cottage industry” status, the panel is understood to have proposed that with the help of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), a balance between farm and non-farm activities could be managed.

Apart from a National Employment Policy (NEP), a National Electronic Employment Exchange is proposed to help every worker who has migrated or is proposing to migrate. All such workers should register their skill and enterprises should register their requirement for workers. While a large part of the workforce is unskilled, the panel is understood to have proposed the framing of a standard operating procedure for migrant workers.

It also proposes a Migrant Worker Welfare Fund with equal contributions from the worker, employer and government. This fund could be utilised to address the requirements of accommodation, health insurance and unemployment allowance in case of shifting of jobs.

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