Labour Minister Sahib Singh wants the coming Budget to announce a Rs. 1,000 crore pension scheme for workers in the unorganised sector.
The minister has reportedly told the Finance Minister that the Centre was meeting 1.16 per cent cost of the EPF pension scheme for the organised sector where workers enjoyed the benefits from several other social security schemes also.
But workers in the unorganised sector, who account for 93 per cent of the country's total workforce, have to depend only on schemes of social sector departments of the Central and state governments for social protection.
The Labour Ministry has now finalised an Unorganised Sector Workers Bill and wants the Rs. 1,000 crore-pension scheme to be its highlight. The Bill is based on the recommendations of the second National Labour Commission, which was asked to draft an umbrella legislation on the subject.
Workers in the unorganised sector are mostly self-employed and work on farms. Over the years, the strength of this workforce has gone up.
Ironically, the proposed scheme for the unorganised sector comes at a time when the Finance Ministry has failed to implement even smaller schemes of a similar nature.
A social security scheme for farm workers was launched in July 2001 and was to cover 10 lakh workers in three years through LIC. The Finance Ministry was to contribute Rs. 730 per worker per year. However, there was no allocation for it in last year's budget, while nearly Rs. 44 crore have already been spent.
This year, the scheme will require Rs. 73 crore. So far, the scheme has covered less than two lakh workers with limited availability of funds.