Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee held a meeting with Trade Unions’ Group to get their inputs for General Budget 2011-12, here today. This was the third meeting in the series of pre-Budget consultations held by Finance Minister with the stakeholders of different sectors. First meeting was held on Friday, the 7th January, 2011 with the stakeholders of agriculture sector and the second meeting in the series was held yesterday with captains of Indian industry.

Welcoming the representatives from different Trade Unions, the Finance Minister said in his opening remarks that growth in employment opportunities is vital for ensuring an inclusive development process and sought their policy suggestions to help the Government move rapidly in that direction. Shri Mukherjee said that one of the biggest challenge before our nation today is to find the correct balance between the need for economic growth, sustainability of our resources and natural habitats and the opportunities that need to be created for bringing the more disadvantaged and vulnerable section of people into the mainstream of the development process. He said that we also have to address the growing aspirations of young India. We need to have sustained higher economic growth with inclusive development, the Minister added.

Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee further said that to achieve that end, the Central Government has adopted a multi-pronged strategy focusing on rapid growth for reducing poverty and creating employment opportunities, improving access to essential services in health and education especially for the poor, and empowerment through education and skill development. He said that Schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Bharat Nirman, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission among others launched by the Government in the last few years have shown encouraging results in meeting some of the requirements of the disadvantaged sections of the society.

Shri Mukherjee said that while we have the advantage of having a young population, the realisation of the demographic dividend would depend on the growth of employment opportunities and on availability of the required skills in a healthy and educated labour force. He said that the Government recognises that without proper skill development, a burgeoning population could actually work to our disadvantage. The Finance Minister said that the National Skill Development Mission which comprises a comprehensive skill development programme covering the entire country has been launched and mandated to train 500 million skilled persons by the year 2022. This would help in meeting the industry requirements and in increasing the employability of our youth, the Minister added.

The Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee said that we have been making significant increase in our budgetary allocations for anti-poverty programmes, but these have to support the desired outcomes. We have to make a quantum improvement in the implementation of public welfare and development programmes, he said. Shri Mukherjee said that initiatives like the rolling out of unique identity numbers by the Unique Identification Authority of India will help in that regard.

Shri Mukherjee further said that on the employment front, the quarterly reports released by the Labour Bureau for July-September 2010 show a continuing upward trend. At the sectoral level, textile sector, IT / BPO industry, automobile industry and metal industry show an encouraging growth in employment, he added. The Minister said that a higher growth in employment has also been recorded in the export oriented units. Shri Mukherjee said that these are good signs that confirm that the post-crisis recovery of our economy has taken root.

Shri Mukherjee later invited the suggestions from the representatives of different Trade Union Groups for addressing the short and medium term concerns in our labour markets and in the rest of the economy.

After that the stakeholders from different trade unions gave their suggestions for consideration for General Budget 2011-12.

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