The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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100-day job in jeopardy
- Govt rethink on employment promise, draft bill put off till winter session

New Delhi, Sept. 8: The United Progressive Alliance government is having second thoughts on the promise of at least 100 days' employment to one person from every poor family, but seems keen on granting statutory powers to a proposed commission on job generation to make it effective.

The government is ready with a draft bill on the 100 days' plan, but it was pushed back from the budget to the winter session for wider consultations.

A source said some allies have expressed reservations about the legislation promising mandatory employment, arguing that a person failing to get a job might move court, opening the floodgates of litigation.

The government will, however, find a way out, the source said. The implementation of the proposal may be delayed but would not be dropped, he added. The ruling coalition gave top priority to employment generation by placing it first in its common minimum programme.

It said it would 'immediately enact a National Employment Guarantee Act to provide a legal guarantee for at least 100 days of employment to begin with on asset-creating public works programmes every year at minimum wages for at least one able-bodied person in every rural, urban poor and lower middle-class household'.

The CMP also promised that the government would establish a national commission to examine the problems faced by enterprises in the unorganised and informal sector and make appropriate recommendations to provide technical, marketing and credit support to them.

A UPA source said the government is serious about the proposed commission on job generation. The word going around is that noted economist Arjun Sengupta, a friend of CPM veteran Jyoti Basu, may be made chairman.

Recommendations of earlier panels under the supervision of the Planning Commission and headed by Montek Singh Ahluwalia and .K. Singh were not fully accepted by the previous NDA government in the face of pressure from the Swadeshi Jagran Manch and BJP hardliners.

The UPA allies, especially the Left parties, want the new commission to be given statutory powers so that its recommendations are binding on the government.

The UPA source said the allies have conveyed their concerns and suggestions to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Some Left leaders, the source added, suggested the panel could be patterned on a Bengal commission which works in close coordination with the government.

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