Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: All India Trade Union Centre (AITUC) general secretary Kanam Rajendran has criticised the Central government for pursuing neo-liberal economic policies that undermine the interests of traditional industries in Kerala.

In a statement here on Wednesday, Mr. Rajendran said the Indo-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, which would come into effect from January 1, would adversely affect cultivators of cash crops and workers in the traditional industries. In this context, the Central government should come forward to meet the cost of modernising and revamping the traditional industrial sector. The State government should formulate the necessary programmes to protect this sector. The UPA government, in its second term in office, had already initiated steps to privatise public sector undertakings. Several prestigious Kerala-based Central PSUs such as HMT, Cochin Shipyard Ltd. and Hindustan Life Care Ltd. had already been included in the privatisation list, he said.

Mr. Rajendran alleged that the Centre was trying to shift the responsibility of tackling price rise on the State governments. Kerala’s statutory rationing system had been virtually liquidated. The price of ration rice had been increased progressively, pushing out people belonging to the above the poverty line category out of the rationing system. The Central government’s policies were responsible for the price rise.

The AITUC leader said his union would stage a Raj Bhavan march on January 1 in protest against the Central government policies. The march was intended to bring to the Centre’s attention the various issues affecting the State.