2019 Budget Reactions: New report will show ‘substantial increase in jobs’, says PM Modi’s economic advisor Bibek Debroy
2019 Budget Reactions: Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) Bibek Debroy spoke about the steps taken by the government for employment and jobs creation in a video posted by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on her Facebook page.Updated: Feb 01, 2019 14:34 IST
The Narendra Modi-led government is pushing self-employment and entrepreneurship through its programmes, chairperson of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) Bibek Debroy has said, amid a row over a leaked report that showed unemployment had surged to the highest in four decades.
Debroy spoke about the steps taken by the government for employment and jobs creation in a video posted by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on her Facebook page.
The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) has said according to its first Periodic Labour Force Survey that unemployment rate in India touched 6.1%, the worst since 1972-73, in July 2017-June 2018 period, as reported by the Business Standard.
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Two members of the National Statistical Commission resigned this week, claiming, among other things, that the government had sat on the report although the commission had approved the data.
It was the first jobs survey conducted after the November 2016 invalidation of high-value banknotes, which led to job losses and curbed job creation, especially in the unorganised sector. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) had estimated that 1.5 million jobs were lost just in the first four months of 2017.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a jibe on Twitter at Prime Minister Modi, whose government is also battling agrarian distress in the countryside as it prepares to head into the next general elections.
“NoMo Jobs! The Fuhrer promised us 2 Cr jobs a year. 5 years later, his leaked job creation report card reveals a National Disaster. Unemployment is at its highest in 45 yrs. 6.5 Cr youth are jobless in 2017-18 alone. Time for NoMo2Go,” he tweeted with the hashtag ‘HowsTheJobs’.
The government’s policy think tank NITI Aayog, in an attempt to defuse the row, said the assessment was still being processed.
And Debroy also highlighted the Centre’s contribution towards enabling jobs creation as he seemed to back the dispensation as the opposition attacked the Modi government over the damning report months ahead of the Lok Sabha election.
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“One of the things, we sometimes do not realise, is that we do not have robust statistical data on job creation for 2011-2012. So, much of the discussion happens on basis of data which is dated. 2011 was last year when NSS had large scale surveys on the state of employment generation. That does not prevent people from discussing them,” he said.
“We will have a new round of the NSS which will be soon be announced and I am sure that that particular survey which will show that there has been substantial employment and substantiated job creation,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA government has been under pressure to step up job creation efforts to absorb job hunters who enter the workforce every year. Instead, the unemployment rate has more than doubled from 2.2% in 2011-2012, according to figures quoted in the newspaper report.
Joblessness is higher in urban areas (7.8%) than rural areas (5.3%), it said. The labour force participation rate — the proportion of the population working or seeking jobs — declined to 36.9% in 2017/18 from 39.5% in 2011/12. The comparable rate for the United States was 63.1% in December.
“The first point we need to realise that India is still an informal and unorganised country and therefore the kind of surveys that are based on enterprises. The Enterprise surveys provide an imperfect understanding of what is happening to employment in India. In India a large part of employment is still self-employment, it is still in the unorganised sector in the informal sector,” Debroy said.
“Therefore, the enterprise surveys don’t tell us anything significant. The only sensible way we can data on jobs or employment are through household surveys, which is what the NSS is,” he said.
Debroy also enumerated the ways in which the Centre is working to bring about jobs as he pointed out that states have a lot to contribute to the issue of employment.
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“The first thing to realise is what is the role of the Modi government. A large part of what happens to jobs employment business environment is in the province of the states. Having said that, the most important thing the government can do … is to facilitate an enabling environment for enterprises to function, for entrepreneurship to flourish and this doesn’t mean only the corporate business sector,” he said.
“And this is precisely what which is what the Modi government is doing by pushing self-employment, by pushing entrepreneurship. This is what the PM means when he says Stand-up India, Startup India.”
“The real issue is the quality of jobs, wage rates. A lot of people who have spent money on education are not happy with the kind of jobs available. I want to flag that the Modi government is creating portals for people to seek appropriate jobs,” he said.
“This is the exactly the intention when one talks about the possible job creation, which is difficult to quantify on the basis of the Mudra loans. So, this is the first thing that needs to be done.”
The second thing, he said, was the creation of physical infrastructure, health and education necessary for growth and generation of jobs.
“And again what is inadequately appreciated is what the Modi government has done in terms of enabling people, enabling growth, enabling employment generation to the provision of physical infrastructures like transportation, electricity, gas connections, and other kinds of health and education interactions,” he said.
Debroy also said there is a lack of correlation between education and skills and “one, therefore, needs to flag what has happened in the area of skill formation, not just in urban but also in rural areas.”
“A combination of all of these things enable that means the economy does well, growth rates are higher, which means there is employment generation, which also means that people will be able to find jobs and these jobs increasingly cannot be and should not be jobs that are only in the government sector. Because the government per se can only provide a limited number of jobs,” he added.
The jobs have to be created in other sectors like manufacturing and service and in case of the rural sector, he said, apart from the farmer activities employment can be generated in relation to the processing of agriculture such as refrigeration and transport.