GoM recommends MNREGA funds to subsidise wage bill of small firms, land pooling to Corporatise

Business News, Nation, (New Delhi), May 14:-Group of Ministers on employment and skill development has drafted a set of proposals on employment and skill development that includes a land pooling model enabling corporatisation of agriculture, opening up EPF and ESIC for the unorganised sector and the merging of MNREGA with skill development programmes to create a wage subsidy programme.

The GoM, headed by social justice and empowerment minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, was formed last week and the draft proposals will be sent for approval on Thursday before being sent to Prime Minister’s office, the Indian Express reported.

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

It suggests merging the 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 has also suggested development and maintenance of rental housing facilities at government and private levels, said the newspaper report.

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 said.

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.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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