'Pension scheme for unorganised workers being firmed up'

NEW DELHI Nov. 7. A pension system for the unorganised workers is being firmed up, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, K.C. Pant, said here today.

While inaugurating a two-day national seminar on ``unorganised labour'', Mr. Pant said that it would be useful to frame a perspective plan for extension of social security coverage to all workers in the country in a time frame of 15 to 20 years. This plan should clearly identify the role of employers, workers and their organisations, the Central and State Governments.

In view of the huge latent income-generating potential in the agriculture and agro-forestry sectors, bringing reforms in the agricultural sector formed a core element of the Tenth Plan.

Mr. Pant said the Tenth Plan had cautioned that unless education and training systems were re-oriented towards imparting skills, which were consistent with the projected structure of growth, the availability of skills and not of capital might become the main constraint to growth. ``It is our belief that the proper kinds of public investment and policy reforms would be able to unleash tremendous entrepreneurial energy in the rural sector, which would create opportunities not only for our farmers, but also in non-farm rural activities,'' he said. On the proposed pension system, Mr. Pant said that it would have to be not only a broad-based one but also self-sustaining. There should also be a system to provide for welfare and social security cover to the contract labour.

In his presidential address, the Union Labour Minister, Sahib Singh Verma, said the unorganised sector assumed utmost importance in terms of employment provision with over 90 per cent of the workforce in the sector and a significant 63 per cent contribution to the GDP.

Underlining the need for rationalisation, simplification and consolidation of labour legislation, he said a uniform umbrella legislation would be introduced before the budget session of Parliament incorporating suggestions made in the Second National Labour Commission. Efforts would be made to get it passed during the same session. Mr. Verma said that in an attempt to extend the reach of social security measures to workers in the informal sector, social security number and social security cards would be introduced to all workers in the unorganised sector.

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