Cong. stages walkout demanding jobs

HYDERABAD, DEC. 27. The State Assembly on Thursday witnessed an acrimonious debate on the unemployment problem with the Opposition members picking holes in the statement made by the Finance Minister, Mr.Yanamala Ramakridhnudu, listing the steps initiated to provide larger job opportunities.

At the end of the two-hour discussion, the Congress-I members led by Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy staged a walkout protesting that the TDP Government had nothing to offer relief to the 50-lakh unemployed people in the State.

Congress members were particularly sore that the Government did not bother to take steps to end the fast by seven youth demanding the filling up of the vacant posts in Group II services. The CPI(M) members too walked out of the House.

The Finance Minister said the Government had not stopped the recruitments nor did it give any commitment to external agencies like the World Bank to slash down the existing staff. He accused the Congress-I of politicising a problem confronted by all the States in the country and the national Government.

He sought to remind the Congress members that it was the Congress-I Government in 1983 which had imposed a blanket ban on recruitment to Government services and read out the ordinance issued in this regard.

Mr. Ramakrishnudu said the present Government was going ahead with need-based recruitments and provided 2,15,691 jobs in the Government and Government-sponsored institutions since 1994-95. The figure included 11,091 SC/ST backlog vacancies filling in from July 1999 onwards, besides 1,01,423 school teachers, 38,822 Vidya volunteers, 3392 civil assistant surgeons, 2252 paramedical staff, 16,982 constables and 41,730 Anganwadi workers.

The Minister agreed that there were still 4908 SC and 4288 ST backlog vacancies to be filled in that the process was on. Selection of 32,129 more school teachers was almost complete.

But the Opposition was not satisfied with the copious statistical data provided by the Minister. Leading the attack, the leader the Opposition, Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy, said that the recruitments that the Government boasted to have made included bulk of Anganwadi workers and Vidya Volunteers who were paid less than Rs 500 per month. There were a solid 2.5 lakh vacant posts in Government services.

Dr.Reddy said the Congress Government brought out the ordinance banning recruitments in the wake of "indiscriminate" recruitment of NMRs by the officials and not with an intention to keep lakhs of regular posts vacant. He also deplored the "odious" comparisons that the Minister sought to make with other States, abolishing the Governmental posts.

The leader of the Opposition said the industrial labour force in Andhra Pradesh was about 17.43 lakhs, compared to 28 lakh in Karnataka and 33.35 lakh in Tamil Nadu, which were smaller States. About 39,000 small-scale industries were closed in the State in the last few years. The unemployment problem had aggravated as the agricultural sector came under severe stress in AP.

The Finance Minister said in his statement that there were 31 lakh job seekers registered in the employment exchanges in the State, of which 18 lakh were without any skills. Almost 60 per cent of the unemployed on the live registers were from general education category (matriculates and graduates). Currently, 69 per cent of the work force is employed in the agriculture sector and 31 per cent in industries and services sector. But by 2020, the trend was expected to be reversed.

About the Group II services, the Minister said the Government was implementing the tribunal order by filling up the 141 posts. The Government had taken a positive decision to request the A.P. Public Service Commission to go ahead and complete the process of selection against vacancies of assistant section officers, assistant labour officers, municipal commissioners and assistant commercial tax officers.

The Minister said poverty eradication and employment generation was the main agenda of the Government and Rs 2000 crores would be spent on the Velugu Project to be implemented by poverty eradication mission in two phases. Five lakh beneficiaries were covered annually under various self-employment schemes like SGSY, CMEY. Annually financial institutions disbursed Rs 3788 crores creating job opportunities to 10.2 lakh beneficiaries.