30 Jan 2018 20:18 IST

Steps must tackle farm distress, raise investments in MSMEs

In addition, skill development programmes and lower corporate tax rates will generate more jobs

If I were the Finance Minister, here are some measures I would adopt in the 2018-19 Budget to propel urban and rural growth, generate jobs and bring down employment in the country.

Tackling Agrarian Distress: There must be greater investments in irrigation facilities, seeds and soil testing laboratories. Additionally, investing in mechanised or scientifically supported high-yield agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries and allied processing units will check farm labour migration. This will be able to generate a cycle of market demand, supply and profits in the near future.

Investment in MSMEs: The apparel, leather and footwear industries, being labour-intensive, are a viable investment option with an eye on job creation. Benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana must be increased to incentivise employers to create new jobs. The government should particularly focus on sectors that would suit the employability needs of women, such as textiles, farming and clothes manufacturing. A decentralised approach to facilitate geographically convenient job opportunities will go a long way.

Bridging the skill gap: Reskilling IT employees through a public online skill enhancement portal, which will address the job displacement arising from automation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Establish institutes for skill development in each State, which provide globally recognised certificates of training, thus increasing the employability of the workforce even in foreign countries.

Boost to Manufacturing Sector

Labour Reforms: Fixed-term contract employment option, which allows firms greater flexibility in their hiring, and emphasises job creation over job security.

Make in India: Creation of coastal economic zones, with focus on tapping export market of labour intensive sectors such as electronics, apparel, utensils, and leather products.

Industrial and Trade Policy: Address the problem of inverted duty structure, which has prevented many manufacturing sectors like aluminium, steel, chemicals, capital goods, etc. from growing since economic reforms began.

Retail Industry: With 100 per cent FDI allowed in single-brand retail, the industry is set to witness a growth in job opportunities in terms of real estate, technology, and logistics. The government should make provisions for easy access to credit for small, unorganised retailers (90 per cent of the retail sector in India is unorganised), helping them upgrade and become more competitive in their outreach to end customers.

Reduction in corporate tax rates: Reduce the standard rate of 30 per cent to attract capital investments into India. This becomes particularly important considering the recently proposed corporate tax reduction in the US.

Public spending: Public investments in health, education, police and judiciary can create many government jobs. Infrastructure and housing construction are also important as they result in the creation of a large number of jobs. The government should focus on spending on social housing and education expansion.

Smart cities: In particular, the main aim of smart cities is to invest in technology and train young people in order to create more jobs. A detailed policy regarding investment in technology and training is required to reap the benefits of the smart city project.

(The writer is a 2nd Year student at Fore School of Management, New Delhi.)