Finance Minister: To make health and social security benefits accessible to un-organised sector workers



Finance Minister: To make health and social security benefits accessible to un-organised sector workers like construction workers, migrant labourers, volunteers of different schemes including Anganwadi workers are one of the major priorities of the present Government. 
The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that the making social security schemes accessible to unorganised sector workers is a major challenge, which the Government is keen to address at this juncture where the unorganised sector is growing at a faster pace. He said that to make health and social security benefits accessible to un-organised sector workers like construction workers, migrant labourers, volunteers of different schemes like Anganwadi workers etc are one of the major priorities of the present Government. Mechanisms can be thought of wherein social security benefit contributions to workers can be made by employers at a single window for all workers. The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley was speaking during his second Pre -Budget Consultative Meeting with the representatives of different Trade Union Groups here today.

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley said that the present framework of social security is structured for different groupings –organized, unorganized and those not employed/BPL, which are functional requirements. He said that there is a need to ensure a convergence of benefits for all these groupings, above a minimum threshold.

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley further said that for employment generation, the Government has taken many intiatives like Make in India, Skill India, Mudra Yojana and National Career Service Portal. He said that around 9.63 lakh organizations have registered on National Career Service portal and 2.09 crore persons have also registered for employment on the same. Along with skill development, identifying labour-intensive industries and new areas where jobs can be created like renewable energy and reusable resources etc. and providing employment linked training can be some of the ways to capitalise on the demographic dividend, the Finance Minister added.

Along with the Finance Minister Shri Jaitley,the Pre-Budget Consultative Meeting with the representatives of Trade Union Groups was also attended among others by Shri Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Finance, Shri R.N. Watal, Finance Secretary, Shri Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, DEA, Dr. Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue Secretary and Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA). The representatives of various Trade Union Groups who attended the today’s meeting include among others Shri Vrijesh Upadhyay (BMS), Shri Rajender Prasad Singh (INTUC), Shri A.L.Sachdev (AITUC), Shri Harbhajan Singh Sidhu (HMS), Shri Tapan Sen, (CITU), Shri Sankar Saha (AIUTUC), Shri S.P. Tiwary (TUCC), Smt. Jyotiben Macwan (SEWA), Shri Rajiv Dimri (AICCTU), Shri L.Rashid Khan (LPF), Shri Deeepak Jaiswal (NFITU) and Shri Ashok Ghosh (UTUC).

Most of the Trade Union representative gave a joint memorandum to the Finance Minister containing suggestions for the forthcoming Union Budget 2016-17.Various suggestions were made by the representatives of Trade Union Groups. The major suggestions include that next Budget should be people oriented budget and help in creation of more jobs/employment opportunities including opening of the Government sector for the employment opportunities. It was suggested to increase the minimum wage to Rs.15,000 especially after the 7th Pay Commission recommended lowest scale starting from Rs. 18,000. Other suggestions include need for taking effective and timely measures to keep prices especially of food items under control, strengthening of social security schemes for the workers especially those working in un-organised sector, extension of National Pension System(NPS) to the workers of un-organised sector.

Many other suggestions include need for over hauling of tax structure, and minimum tax exemption limit be raised to Rs. 5.00 lakh in case of employees. creation of a separate Social Sector Affairs Department coordinating different ministries and experts and to include representative of such sectors so that the benefits reach directly to the real beneficiaries.

Other suggestions include minimizing the administrative cost upto 5% of total allocation. It was suggested that growth may be related to the wage of workers and hence a ‘wage-led growth’ has to be brought in. Increase in wages would lead to increase in purchasing power of the people which in turn will strengthen the market and the economy. It was suggested that allocation to education sector be raised to 6% and health allocation be raised to 3% (from present 1%) of the total budget. It was suggested that un-organised sector required a comprehensive decent work agenda which includes reasonable/decent wages, work conditions, social security, welfare, safety, gender justice and job security among others.

It was suggested to open a ‘Worker’s Bank’ for general interest of workers. It was suggested that there is need for amendment of Contractual Labour Act and same wages be given for same work for those working on contractual basis. Anti-dumping measures especially in metal sector have to taken-up on utmost priority to save the domestic industry from irreparable loss and ultimate closure. There should be no ceiling on bonus and no FDI be allowed in crucial sectors such as railways & defence and no disinvestment of profit making PSUs be made among others. 
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FM: Key challenges faced by the Indian agriculture include the need to increase productivity by leveraging technology-especially for high yielding and resistant variety seeds, efficient utilization of water, adaption of latest IT to increase resilience to nature and to increase the price benefits to the farmer by providing timely market information. 
The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that said the key challenges faced by the Indian agriculture are the need to increase productivity by leveraging technology-especially for high yielding and resistant variety seeds and efficient utilization of water, adapt latest IT to increase resilience to nature by phasing sowing, watering and harvesting and to increase the price benefits to the farmer by providing timely market information. The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley said that these challenges can be addressed by revisiting the incentive structure of farming, use latest technology to raise productivity, reduce wastages and enhance earnings as well as to improve marketing of farm produce. He said there is a need for more investment in agriculture sector. The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley was speaking during his first Pre -Budget Consultative Meeting with the representatives of Agriculture Groups here today.

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley further said that the performance of Agriculture Sector during three out of the last four years (2015-16, 2014-15, 2012-13) has not been good mainly due to inadequate monsoons. As per the estimates of GDP for the second quarter (July-September) of 2015-16, the Minister said that agriculture, forestry and fishing sector grew by 2.2 percent as compared to growth of 2.1 percent in the corresponding period of 2014-15.

Along with the Finance Minister Shri Jaitley, the Pre Budget Consultative Meeting with the representatives of Agriculture Groups was also attended among others by Shri Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Finance, Shri R.N. Watal, Finance Secretary, Shri Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, DEA, Dr. Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue Secretary, Shri Shri Avinash Kumar Srivastava, Spl. Secretary, Agriculture, Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA), and Shri Ramesh Chand, NITI Ayog. The representatives of the different Agriculture Groups present during the meeting included Venkatrao Nadagouda, Federation of Oilseeds Cooperative Growers of India, Shri Vijayan Rajes, President, United Planters Association of South India, Dr. Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice Chancellor, PAU, Shri Siraj Chaudhary, Chairman & MD, Cargill India Pvt. Ltd., Shri Keshab Das, GIDR, Dr. Suresh Pal, Member (Official), CACP, Shri Bojja Dashratha Rami Reddy, Secretary General, Consortium of Indian Farmers Association, Dr. K.V. Prabhu, Joint Director (Research), IARI, Shri Devesh Roy, IFPRI, Shri Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, Shri Harish Damodaran, Indian Express, Shri UK Awasthi, Chairman, IFFCO, Dr. Y. Sivaji, Chairman, Kisan Foundation, Dr. Dinesh, Chief Executive, National Cooperative Union of India, Shri Gulshan John, Chairperson, All India Spices Exporter Forum, Shri Satish Chander, DG, Fertilizer Association of India, among others. Many suggestions were received from the representatives of different Agriculture Groups. Major suggestions include Micro Irrigation System be given infrastructure lending status, food exports may be taxed rather than banned and funds collected there from be spent for improving irrigation system. It was suggested to set-up National Institute for Agriculture Market Intelligence, introduction of agriculture index and satellite survey every month. Data received though survey be shared with farmers so that they can take a decision about sowing of a particular crop as well as its marketing etc.

Other suggestions included maximum retail price (MRP) be fixed for different types of fertilizers, cost of urea be increased while NPK prices be decreased for balanced use of fertilizers, discourage import of urea from China. Other suggestions included direct transfer of fertilizer subsidy to farmers, introduction of Price Deficiency Payment System, 100% funding by Central Government to control food and mouth disease among the livestock, subsidy to farmers through Government agencies for setting-up solar system, subsidy on herbicides, setting-up warehousing facilities in the rural areas so that farmers can store their produce and there by avoid distress sale by them.

Other suggestions included development of village/farm ponds, provision of three phase electricity and drip irrigation system, to create awareness among farmers about crop insurance and timely settlement of their claims, promoting investment for having better quality seeds, higher investment in agriculture research and development, creation of market platform for agro products, expansion of price stabilization fund, cheap credit for livestock, timely release of grants, exemption of oil seeds from GST, rubber to be considered as a agriculture commodity, to create a buffer stock of pulses and edible oils etc as international commodities prices are historically low, reforms in Land Lease Act, setting-up of Special Commission for irrigation to improve dry land farming, Green Revolution to be taken to North East, all those given employment under MGNREGA programme should be registered under Panchayats and made available for agriculture among others. 
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Auction for Sale (Re-issue) of Government Stock 

       Government of India have announced the Sale (issue/re-issue) of (i) “7.68 per cent Government Stock 2023” for a notified amount of ` 2,000 crore (nominal) through price based auction, (ii) “New 10 year Government Stock” for a notified amount of Rs. 8,000 crore (nominal) through yield based auction, (iii) “7.73 per cent Government Stock 2034” for a notified amount of Rs. 2,000 crore (nominal) through price based auction, and (iv)  “7.72 per cent Government Stock 2055” for a notified amount of Rs. 2,000 crore (nominal) through price based auction.  The auctions will be conducted using multiple price method. The auctions will be conducted by the Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai Office, Fort, Mumbai on January 08, 2016 (Friday).

       Up to 5% of the notified amount of the sale of the stocks will be allotted to eligible individuals and Institutions as per the Scheme for Non-Competitive Bidding Facility in the Auction of Government Securities.

       Both competitive and non-competitive bids for the auction should be submitted in electronic format on the Reserve Bank of India Core Banking Solution (E-Kuber) system on January 08, 2016. The non-competitive bids should be submitted between 10.30 a.m. and 11.30 a.mand the competitive bids should be submitted between 10.30 a.m. and 12.00 noon.   

       The result of the auctions will be announced on January 08, 2016 and payment by successful bidders will be January 11, 2016 (Monday).   

       The Stocks will be eligible for “When Issued” trading in accordance with the guidelines on ‘When Issued transactions in Central Government Securities’ issued by the Reserve Bank of India vide circular No. RBI/2006-07/178 dated November 16, 2006 as amended from time to time.



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