Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday set up a high-level task force under Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya to fine tune jobs data so that the government can frame policies to spur employment.
The task force will recommend solutions which can be implemented in a time-bound manner.
“The PM has directed that this task be expedited so that policies on employment can be formulated with a proper appreciation of impacts, based on credible data,” a PMO release said.
The task force also includes labour secretary Sathiyavathy, chief statistician TCA Ananth, Pulak Ghosh of Niti Aayog and Teamlease chief Manish Sabharwal.
At present, data on employment is collected and published by certain agencies including the Labour Bureau but the coverage is very small. The Labour Bureau data covers only a few sectors and the methodology is not based on updated panel of survey respondents.
“The net result has been that both policy making and analysis are conducted in a data vacuum,” the PMO said.
Asserting that the government attaches the highest priority to job creation, the PMO said, “India suffers from a lack of reliable, timely data on employment, which has made it difficult for policy makers and independent observers to assess the extent of employment generation at different points of time.”
Modi had directed his ministers to come up with a solution to fill this long standing gap in the country’s statistical architecture.
In the last budget session of the Parliament, minister of state for planning Rao Inderjit Singh admitted that the overall unemployment was rising, and the rate was highest among the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The unemployment rate has increased to 5% from just 3.8% in 2011.
The announcement to set up the task force assumes importance in the wake of slowdown in the economy and potential job losses after the government scrapped Rs 15.44 lakh crore of high denomination notes in November 2016 to fight the menace of black money.
The government’s stats office CSO estimated economic growth to slide to 7.1% in 2016-17 from 7.9% in 2015-16.
In January, a United Nations report said India may witness marginal increase in unemployment between 2017 and 2018.
The World Employment and Social Outlook report said: “Unemployment in India is projected to increase from 17.7 million last year to 17.8 million in 2017 and 18 million next year. In percentage terms, unemployment rate will remain at 3.4 per cent in 2017-18.”
Opposition leaders including former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had warned the Modi government of disastrous impact of demonetisation.