New Delhi: The Union cabinet on Thursday approved a social security scheme that will benefit some 36 crore workers in the unorganized sector.
Under the scheme, these workers will be eligible for life and disability cover, health benefits, old-age protection and other benefits that may be decided by the central government later.
As per the government’s plan, every worker in the unorganized sector—which accounts for as much as 86% of the country’s workforce —will be issued a smart card containing a unique identification number.
The record-keeping agency for the purpose will be the district panchayat in rural areas and urban local bodies in the case of cities and towns.
The minimum age limit for persons to take part in the scheme is 18 years, and all such workers will have to tender a declaration stating that they are employed in the unorganized sector.
Addressing reporters here on Thursday, Union information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said the government had decided to introduce a Bill in Parliament during the monsoon session.
However, he declined to put a number on the likely expenditure, saying the “sky is the limit”.
Mint had reported on 21 May that the government had, for the first time, proposed to introduce a legislation on social security that would extend to workers in the unorganized sector.
Among other decisions, the cabinet also approved exemption of all textiles and textile machinery from the textile committee cess in order to rationalize the tax burden on the sector, the minister said.
It also approved a Rs550 crore skill development initiative to train school dropouts, workers and graduates of industrial training institutes so as to improve their employability.
Dasmunsi said the government would constitute a national advisory board which would design suitable welfare schemes for different sections of unorganized workers.
According to the minister, the government had identified around a dozen groups on the basis of their vocation for whom welfare packages would be designed separately.
“These groups include people working in the farming, forestry, mining and many other sectors,” Dasmunsi said.
The Bill will also make provision for the constitution of state-level advisory boards by state governments.