New draft of Unorganised Workers' Bill presented to PM

Published: Tuesday, May 16, 2006, 16:40 [IST]
 

New Delhi, May 16 (UNI) The Arjun Sengputa Commission today submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a new and modified draft of the Unorganised Sector Workers' Bill to cover 362 million workers lying at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

After much dilly dallying and three draft Bills, including one by the National Advisory Council (NAC) previously headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and another by the Labour Ministry, the new Bill is significant as it coincides with the second anniversary of the UPA government.

The new Bill has proposed a National Minimum Social Security Scheme for all unorganised workers whose monthly salary is less than Rs 6,500 benefits like health cover, sickness allowance, maternity benefit and life insurance.

There is also a Provident Fund cover with an assured returns of 10 per cent and an old-age pension of Rs 200 per month for below poverty line (BPL) workers.

The Sengupta-led National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector reckons the cost of the scheme, a much-debated issue that is said to have delayed the Bill, to be Rs 7,367 crore (.20 per cent of GDP) in the first year and Rs 25,401 crore (.48 per cent of GDP) in the fifth year when it reaches the last worker.

''It's not the Commission's job to say how the financial cost will be borne. That is the responsibility of the government,'' said Dr Sengupta.

According to him, the government could find the money through reallocation, from existing revenue or by imposing a social security tax.

''The expenditure will be worth it considering the huge benefits from the scheme for the poor workers,'' he said.

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