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GoM headed by Thawar Chand Gehlot proposes land pooling to corporatise agri, merging MGNREGA with skilling programmes

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Use of MNREGA Funds to Subsidise Wage Bill of Small FirmsOn May 14, 2020 A Group of Ministers(GoM) panel headed by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot on employment and skill development has drafted a set of proposals that includes land pooling to corporatise agriculture, opening up Employees’ Provident Fund(EPF) and  Employees State Insurance Corporation(ESIC) for the unorganised sector, merging the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act ,2005(MGNREGA) with skill development programmes to create a wage subsidy programme.

Panel’s suggestions in the drafted proposals

i.The land pooling model used to build greenfield airports can be used in agriculture so as to enable corporatisation, which will create demand for skilled labourers.

ii.Merge MGNREGA with skill development programmes to create a wage subsidy programme, where the MGNREGA amount is extended to companies as a wage subsidy for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).

iii.Works in private enterprises such as factories, construction sites and shops can be considered as eligible work under MGNREGA, which will lower the cost of wages and make industries competitive, creating a local employment wave.

iv.The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) can cut the reverse repo rate to 0% for a few months, thus encouraging banks to lend more. Banks can use Goods & Service Tax(GST) credits as collateral and lend against them.Establish a venture capital fund for SMEs

v.Develop & maintain the rental housing facilities at government and private levels so as to  provide rental accommodation to migrant workers

vi.Create a new Department of Hygiene to ensure hygienic practices, which should be made mandatory in all organisations, government or private, and public places, which will have more employment potential.

vii.The food processing should be given “cottage industry” status, with the help of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana(PMKVY), a balance between farm and non-farm activities could be managed.

viii.Besides from National Employment Policy (NEP), a National Electronic Employment Exchange is proposed  to help every worker who has migrated or is proposing to migrate. All those workers shall register their skill and enterprises should register their requirement for workers.

ix.Frame a standard operating procedure for migrant workers as a large part of the workforce is unskilled. Proposed a Migrant Worker Welfare Fund with equal contributions from the worker, employer and government, this fund can be utilised to address the requirements of accommodation, health insurance and unemployment allowance in case of shifting of jobs.

x.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. 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.

About ESIC:
Headquarters– New Delhi
Director General– Anuradha Prasad, Indian Defence Accounts Service (I.D.A.S.)