Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asks trade unions to help GDP grow by additional 1.5 %
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday appealed to labour unions to support the government in its efforts to achieve an additional 1-1.5 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth and in return promised to help the unions in achieving their demands.
The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the trade union affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), felicitated Jaitley and other ministers of the government’s inter-ministerial council for looking into the demands of labour unions.
Jaitley said India needed to grow by additional 1-1.5 per cent over and above the current 7-7.5 per cent for the government to increase its revenue and offset the burden of Rs 20,000 crore from the implementation of ‘one rank one pension’ and the Rs 1.02 lakh crore after the acceptance of the seventh pay commission recommendations. Increased GDP growth, the finance minister said, would also help wage hike and other benefits given to workers and the poor.
“Our GDP growth of 7.5 per cent is at a time when the world is experiencing global slowdown. We need to increase our growth rate. We have to at least increase it by 1-1.5 per cent,” he said. Jaitley said the government wanted the benefits of the gains of economic growth should go first to labourers and the poor.
Noting that wages or bonus can be increased when the government and private sector have resources to do so, he said minimum wages of labour should be at least respectable and take care of inflation. The finance minister asked BMS to support the government in its growth-oriented policies and it would in turn take care of all their reasonable demands, essentially seeking trade union’s assistance in more labour reforms that the government plans.
Jaitley said the philosophy of Left parties had little acceptance across the country, and pointed out that despite their labour-friendly positioning, the lowest minimum wage in India was in the Left-ruled Tripura. Apart from Jaitley, BMS also felicitated other ministers for their efforts in passing the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, 2015. These ministers were Bandaru Dattatreya, Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan.
Labour Minister Dattatreya said the government would issue ‘U-Win’ smart cards to 40 crore workers in the unorganised sector in the country from January-end. The U-Win (Unorganised Worker Identification Number) card would facilitate workers to receive benefits under various government welfare schemes, the minister said.
In the first phase, government will cover construction workers, autorickshaw drivers and rickshaw pullers, he added. With the U-Win smart card, the government will provide national health insurance, Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana and old age pension. Schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jan Suraksha Yojana, Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Atal Pension Yojana will also be made available under the programme. The card will have a portability function.
Dattatreya said the government would bear an additional burden of about Rs 6,100 crore due to the passing of the bonus Bill.
‘GST as a smokescreen’
The Congress on Wednesday said the Central government was using the goods and services tax (GST) issue as a smokescreen to hide its failures on the economic front. Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said the 19-month old Narendra Modi government had “failed on all fronts” and was interested only in pursuing vendetta politics.