NDA govt must tackle unemployment problem, especially in the unorganised sector: Rajiv Kumar

People are without jobs and firms are struggling to expand their capacity, says former NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar

Published - June 10, 2024 01:58 pm IST - New Delhi

Former NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar. File

Former NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar. File | Photo Credit: BIJOY GHOSH

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led-NDA government in its third term must tackle the problem of unemployment in India, especially in the unorganised sector and in small and medium enterprises, former NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said on June 10.

Mr. Kumar also emphasised that the government now must finalise the four labour codes as it has been delayed beyond expectations.

"We must recognise that post-Covid economic recovery has been a K-shaped recovery. I think the most important reform that the Modi government must take is to tackle the unemployment problem, especially in the unorganised and the small and medium enterprises," he told PTI in an interview.

According to a recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, the share of unemployed youths in India's total unemployed population was nearly 83% in 2022. "The large corporations have done very well and those who are highly skilled have done well. But at the lower end, people are without jobs and firms are struggling to expand their capacity," the eminent economist said.

According to Mr. Kumar, an important way to generate employment is to reduce the regulatory and compliance burden that SMEs face. “So they have to be tackled along with the State governments,” he said.

He said that the four labour codes need to be finalised and made into statutes.

‘Expand apprenticeship programmes’

Mr. Kumar stressed the need to give more attention to the skilling of youth, especially to apprenticeship development, saying schooling and the education system in India are lagging behind in this regard.

"Our apprenticeship programme needs a far bigger push than we have now and access to quality education should be ensured because ultimately, these are the factors which will determine the employability and employment generation potential for our economy," he noted.

Coalition dharma and economic reforms

Responding to a question regarding the future of the government's disinvestment programme, Mr. Kumar noted disinvestment has taken a backseat over the past five years. He pointed out that targets of non-tax revenue and non-tax capital revenue have not been huge in the successive budgets in the last five years, except one year when Air India was privatised. I am not sure at all that the coalition dharma will be the cause for pushing this (disinvestment) in the background," he said.

The former NITI Aayog Vice Chairman emphasised that privatisation and generating revenues from it to reduce India's public debt-to-GDP burden is a necessary and important reform measure that should be taken. "Also, to improve the efficiency of the public sector enterprises, especially the public sector banks, where I had advocated very strongly the privatisation of most public sector banks, except the State Bank of India," he said.

On a question concerning the correlation between coalition governments and economic reforms, Mr. Kumar said the coalition governments have been far better in generating reforms.

He said being a coalition government, one should not believe that there will not be any reforms and they will be only populism. "I think all the three parties (BJP, TDP and JDU) who are coming together are pro-reform parties. And therefore, the pace reforms can and perhaps will continue, as in the last 10 years," he said.

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