Finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget has reiterated the government’s commitment to job creation and identified several sectors - textiles, leather, tourism, transportation and affordable housing - that he said will open up employment opportunity.
In his speech on Wednesday, Jaitley described “energising youth through education, skills and jobs” as one of the government’s 10 important focus areas.
The Centre, which has promised 100 million jobs by 2022, has decided to replicate the special scheme it had launched for the textile sector in the leather and footwear industries as well.
“For transportation sector as a whole, including rail, roads, shipping, I have provided Rs 2,41,387 crore in 2017-18. This magnitude of investment will spur a huge amount of economic activity across the country and create more job opportunities,” the finance minister said on Wednesday.
Tourism, said to be a big employment generator with a multiplier impact on the economy, is another sector which the Centre lays special emphasis for generating employment. Jaitley announced that five Special Tourism Zones, anchored on SPVs, will be set up in partnership with the states. Incredible India 2.0 campaign will also be launched across the world in order to encourage the sector.
Experts said the decision to accord industry status to the affordable housing sector also seems to have aimed at providing mammoth job and entrepreneurship opportunities. With the mission of providing 20 million houses across India, the Centre has announced skilled development plans for youths for making them employable in this sector.
“The budget lays special focus on the youth in the context of skill development, and it recognises the issue of job creation as well opportunities for boosting entrepreneurial skills. For example, the budget proposes training for masons for providing a workforce for housing sector with a major focus on the affordable housing,” CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee said.
“This sector will also create micro-entrepreneurs. The industry, which has come out of the effects of demonetisation, is there to support the government in this sector,” he added.
The private sector, too, is upbeat about the budgetary announcements.
“The budget gives a great thrust to the Skill India Initiative. The government’s enhanced focus on youth learning and skill development (via schemes like Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana), upliftment of women (through schemes like Mahila Shakti Kendra and Anganwadi initiatives) are notable moves,” Arjun Pratap, founder and CEO of EdGE Networks - an HR Tech startup - said.
Pratap added that women empowerment has been given special attention in this budget which will resonate well for India’s economic growth. Jaitley said in his speech that the total funds allocated for the welfare of women and children across all the ministries will rise to Rs 1,846 billion from Rs 1,565 billion the previous year.
“If executed well, these initiatives could bring in significant transformation across rural India. We hope that the investment in youth and education through the Skill India initiative will lead to a more employable population – and bridge the demand and supply gap,” he added.
Employment generation has been the key electoral promise of the National Democratic Alliance government, which is midway through its five-year term.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly in the informal sector, lost their jobs after the government’s demonetisation drive and affected the economy, which was already hurting from slowing demand and investments.
Jaitley’s budget was being seen as an opportunity for the Modi government to ease the pain of people hit hard by the shock recall 500-and 1000-rupee banknotes in his fight against black money.