NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said more needs to be done to create jobs but countered claims of jobless growth, saying it was impossible not to have new jobs created given the pace of economic growth, infrastructure creation and inflow of foreign direct investments.

Addressing a gathering of industry leaders at the News18 rising India summit 2019 in the capital, Modi also set out the priorities of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ahead of the parliamentary polls due by April May. Modi said the NDA’s priority is to bring development, ensure a transparent and corruption-free governance and ensuring state benefits are given to the needy directly without middlemen.

Modi’s assurance of creating more jobs and emphasis on good governance with a focus on the poor highlights the issues on which the national poll will be fought. The government has in recent months announced a series of steps including relief to farmers, tax breaks to the middle class and quick credit facility to small businesses. The idea is to address the rural distress and to offer relief to sections of society that got hurt by structural reforms like the introduction of goods and services tax (GST) as well as the steps meant to formalize the economy including the 2016 demonetisation.

Modi said it was impossible for the economy to grow at over 7% without creating any jobs. “When foreign direct investment inflow is at an all time high, is it possible that jobs are not being created?..Is it possible that without employment, people are coming out of poverty? When new rail lines are being laid, new houses and airports are being built, is it possible that jobs are not created by any of these?," said Modi.

Citing data from social security schemes, the prime minister also said that about ten lakh people are being added to formal workforce every month, translating to 1.2 crore new jobs every year. Modi said that between September 2017 and November 2018, about five lakh new subscribers were added to the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Similarly, every month 10-11 lakh subscribers were added to Employees’ State Insurance Corp. (ESIC). Even if there is an overlap of 50% between the two sources of data, ten lakh people are joining the formal workforce a month, said Modi.

“Still, we do not believe that everything has been achieved. It is true that we need to do more. But the direction and the pace of our growth shows that India will be the role model for the rest of the world in job creation as well," said Modi.

Earlier in the day, railways and coal minister Piyush Goyal said at the event that the NDA was committed to taking welfare measures and to step up the benefits given to the weaker sections of society. Goyal said that reform credentials of the NDA was anchored on inclusive growth.

Modi said that efforts like direct transfer of benefits has led to a saving of 1.1 trillion from reaching wrong hands, while 6 trillion has been directly deposited on the bank accounts of people by way of state benefits without any leakage. “We are committed to bring the light of development in every nook and corner of the country," said the prime minister.

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