Unemployment is the gravest challenge to the country, and job creation should be the highest priority for the economy. In the last 5 years, there has been a dramatic rise in unemployment. Today, unemployment is touching a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent, according to the government’s own figures. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy puts the number at 7.2 per cent. At the end of this February, 3.1 crore people were actively looking for jobs. Data indicates that total employment has declined, the labour participation rate has declined, and existing jobs have been destroyed. Every section of society has been affected by growing unemployment and the destruction of existing jobs: youth, families, women, small business persons, traders, farmers, daily-wage workers and agricultural labourers.
- Congress pledges to give the highest priority to protecting existing jobs and creating new jobs.
- In order to underline the link between the growth of industry and the service sectors and the rapid creation of jobs, Congress will create a new Ministry of Industry, Services and Employment.
- All of the 4 lakh vacancies as on 1st April 2019 in the Central Government, Central Public Sector Enterprises, Judiciary and Parliament will be filled before the end of March 2020. As a condition for devolution of funds to the healthcare and education sectors and to Panchayats and Municipalities, Congress will request State Governments to fill all vacancies, estimated at 20 lakh, in the 2 sectors and the local bodies.
- We will work with State Governments to create new Seva Mitra positions (estimated at 10 lakh) in every Gram Panchayat and every Urban Local Body to ensure the effective delivery of government services to citizens.
- Application fees for government examinations and government posts will be abolished.
- Congress pledges to create lakhs of new jobs for qualified teachers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, technicians, instructors and administrators through a massive expansion of the education and health sectors.
Para-state workers like Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers, rozgarsahayaks, preraks, anudeshaks and other such groups form the backbone of the public service delivery system. We will increase funding for the relevant programmes and work with State Governments to ensure that they are paid more than minimum wage and all arrears are paid immediately. We will also work with State Governments and attempt to address all pending contentious issues regarding their salaries and work conditions. In addition, we will expand the ASHA programme and appoint a second ASHA worker in all villages with a population exceeding 2500 persons.
- We will trigger rapid growth of the manufacturing sector, particularly of MSMEs, through the provision of world-class infrastructure in industrial hubs and cluster towns in order to aid the expansion of current units and the creation of new units.
- MSMEs account for 90 per cent of all employment outside agriculture. The definition of MSMEs based on capital employed is biased against labour. Congress will link the definition of MSME to employment. A business employing 10 persons or less will be ‘micro;’ between 11 and 100 will be ‘small;’ and between 101 and 500 will be ‘medium.’
- We will create an Enterprise Support Agency to help entrepreneurs, including start-ups, with all-round business support, including counselling, incubation; access to technology, funding, domestic and export markets; and the creation of new products, services and intellectual property.
- We promise regulatory forbearance for Micro and Small Enterprises. They will be exempt from all applicable laws and regulations (except the Minimum Wages Act and tax laws) for a period of 3 years from 1st April 2019, or, in the case of new businesses, from the date of commencement of business. This means freedom from ‘Inspector Raj’ until they stabilise.
- Congress will promote ‘Mass Entrepreneurship’ and support entrepreneurs to replicate tried and tested models of businesses in order to meet the growing demand for such goods and services.
- The main job-creating sectors are construction, textiles, leather, gems & jewellery, entertainment, tourism, and retail businesses. We will reward businesses that create new jobs by lowering their effective direct tax rates and by lowering contributions to the CSR fund.
- We will provide fiscal incentives to businesses that employ a certain percentage of women.
- Exports create jobs. We will reward export-oriented industries through tax rebates and incentives.
- Tourism creates jobs. Congress promises an adequately capitalised Tourism Development Bank to provide low-cost, long-term funds for investment in tourism-related businesses. We will also offer lower rates of corporate and personal income tax on tourism-related business income.
- We recognise the need to create lakhs of low-skilled jobs in order to absorb young men and women who have completed only a few years in school. Congress will launch 2 major programmes to be implemented through Gram Sabhas and Urban Local Bodies that will create lakhs of jobs:
- Repair and restoration of water bodies (‘Water Bodies Restoration Mission’); and,
- Regeneration and afforestation of wasteland and degraded land (‘Wasteland Regeneration Mission’).
- Congress will require businesses employing 100 persons or more to start an apprenticeship programme, impart skills, pay a stipend, and to employ from among the trained apprentices whenever a job is created or becomes vacant in that business. We will amend The Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014 to include ‘Apprenticeship’ as an additional activity.
- We will identify new kinds of jobs that will emerge with the advent of new technologies and will offer opportunities to the youth to acquire the skill-sets necessary for these jobs.