The Cabinet approved a youth policy proposing five per cent cess on liquor and tobacco products on Wednesday. The cess will be used for youth welfare activities.

The policy also proposes extension of equivalency examinations at the secondary level to the higher secondary level. This will help school drop outs and others to acquire Plus Two certificates.

Youth banks will be started in each district to provide loans to young entrepreneurs in starting industrial, business or agriculture ventures. Groups will be formed at higher educational institutions to promote entrepreneurship and self employment. Skill development centres will be started at the block level.

A directory on higher education, the policy says, will be published and a help desk set up for students. A project will be launched in collaboration with local self governments to achieve total computer literacy among youth. The services of the employment exchanges will be diversified and they will be converted into data base centres. Labour bank will be set up at the panchayat level.

Youth labour clinics will be started at block or municipal levels to ensure job security and protection to young workers. Cooperatives of overseas youth will be formed for promotion of small and medium ventures. Classes will be organised in higher educational institutions for development of soft skills. Cooperative agriculture and similar activities by the youth will be promoted. Training will be accorded in a wide range of fields.

The policy promises play grounds and swimming pools in all village panchayats. Cycle riding will be encouraged. Local self governments will ensure 30 per cent representation for in all popular committees. They will be directed to set apart a certain amount of funds for a component plan for youth in their annual plans.

A consolidated fund will be formed for providing scholarships and other assistance to poor students taking up higher studies. Voluntary contributions will also be sought and credited to the fund, besides revenues from the youth cess.

Counselling centres will be started for helping youth suffering from mental problems. Pre-marriage counselling will be promoted for wider reach. Youth will be organised for disaster management, providing first aid to victims of road accidents, anti-liquor campaigns and environmental protection.

A committee chaired by the Chief Minister will be formed for implementation of the policy which was finalised after detailed discussions and consultations, an official release said.

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