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It’s the public sector that is standing tall, says RSS-affiliated trade union

A.M. Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on April 16, 2020 Published on April 16, 2020

Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh urges PM to announce sector-specific measures

RSS-affiliated trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding sector-specific measures to revive the economy. While promoting private businesses and investment, public investment should also be increased, said BMS General Secretary Virjesh Upadhyay in the letter.

The market alone cannot sustain the economy, he said. “Before this pandemic, Indian economic policy was inclined towards the retreat of the government from the sphere of the market and handing over everything to the private sector. However, the lockdown has exposed the inherent weaknesses of the private sector,” he said, adding thatthe market is totally paralysed.

“Workers engaged in the private sector have been rendered helpless. Now, the government has to take care of both private businesses and their employees. This is an important message to our policymakers. While promoting private businesses and investment, public investment should also be increased. It is the public enterprise which serves as a safety valve in times of crisis. While strengthening the private sector, the public sector should be expanded,” he said.

Pointing out that SMEs account for 32 per cent of the GDP, with the potential to provide jobs to about 11.4 crore workers, he said the government should revive the practice of making government purchases only from SMEs. He demanded wage subsidies, tax holidays, immediate payment of GST dues, extended loan moratoriums, relaxation in regulatory norms and tax rationalisation such as reducing GST slabs for priority sectors to overcome the current crisis. “Some sectors of the economy can be revived by simply promoting consumption,” he said, asking the government to put money in the hands of consumers through social welfare measures and schemes such as MNREGA.

Due to a change in the psyche of consumers, many sectors will face permanent damages, said Upadhyay. “Meat, fisheries etc can be seen in this context. This pandemic has given a clear message to the world that non-veg food habits have given rise to this situation. The consumption of meat products has already declined and there is a possibility that it may remain so for a long period,” he said.

Supply chains for all sectors have become paralysed across the nation, said Upadhyay in the letter. “Most of those engaged in supply are wage workers and the majority of them are migrant workers. They have migrated back to their native places in the absence of jobs during the lockdown. Now, mobilising them back into the economy shall remain a challenge. The government also needs to devise mechanisms to mobilise them back to their work once normalcy returns,” he added, demanding a national policy for migrant workers.

He further said the phenomenon of working from home could alter the definition of workplace in the long run. “If work from home becomes a practice, outsourced companies shall simply disappear,” he said, warning that this may, in turn, affect the social security of the employees.

Published on April 16, 2020

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