Labour ministry likely to get more funds this Budget

Labour ministry likely to get more funds this Budget

New Delhi: The labour ministry may get about 36% more money under planned allocation in the Budget for the year starting 1 April to expand welfare programmes such as health insurance for the poor.

“We are getting 1,300 crore under planned allocation in the coming Budget," labour secretary Prabhat Chaturvedi said. The ministry was allocated 956 crore under the same Plan in the current year’s budget allocation.

The labour ministry will also get about 750 crore for upgrading 1,400 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) that it runs. The funds for the ITIs will be more in the form of a loan, Chaturvedi said.

“Increased budget allocation is good for the ministry because they can use it for welfare schemes and skill development initiatives," said E. Balaji, chief executive officer at Ma Foi Randstad, an employment and human resource tracking firm. “What is required is reforms in labour laws, which will make it industry-friendly. This will increase employment and make the effort of the ministry more effective."

The labour ministry implements some of the welfare programmes of the ruling United Progressive Alliance government. These programmes include the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, a health insurance plan for the poor, the National Child Labour Project for rescuing child labourers, and several skill development initiatives to reduce the mismatch between education and employment in the country.

The labour ministry is expanding the number of people that are eligible for the health insurance plan, introduced in 2009 for families that are living below the poverty line, to include construction workers, street vendors, domestic helps, weavers and autorickshaw drivers, Chaturvedi said.

“This expansion will need money and, hopefully, with funds in hand we will be able to roll out things faster," he said. The ministry plans to cover all workers in unorganized sectors in the next 10 years, he said.

Almost 90% of India’s 450-million workforce is in the unorganized sector.

Under the child labour plan, the ministry rehabilitates rescued children by helping their families. The problem of child labour hurts trade and commerce as many international companies and countries do not do business with industries that employ children, he said. India is home to at least 10 million child labourers.