New Delhi: Facing criticism over lack of job creation by his government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday rejected allegations of rising unemployment and said crores of new jobs have been created in formal and unorganised sectors in the last four and half years.
Jobs have been created both in informal and formal sectors, he said in Lok Sabha, citing data from provident fund and National Pension System (NPS), Income Tax filings and sale of vehicles among others.
His defence came amid allegations of jobless growth, which has been highlighted by a leaked NSSO (National Sample Survey Office) report, which pegged unemployment at a 45-year-high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18, but has not been released since December. Two members of the National Statistics Commission had resigned over it, alleging that the government had suppressed it.
Replying to the debate on Motion of Thanks to the President's address to Parliament, Modi rejected the findings of the leaked report and said informal sector accounts for 85-90 per cent while the formal sector provides only 10-15 per cent employment in the country.
The Prime Minister said in 15 months till November 2018, 1.8 crore people got enrolled in the Employees Provident Fund for the first time. Of these 64 per cent were below 28 years of age.
As many as 65 lakh employees were part of NPS system in 2014 which has increased to 1.2 crore by October 2018. About 6.35 lakh new professionals have filed income tax returns in the last four year. "Isn't this indication of job creation," the PM quipped on the repeated barbs of opposition leaders on employment situation in the country.
“In the past four years, there are more than 6 lakh new professionals in the country. Do you think when a doctor opens a clinic or a nursing home, he will only employ one person? Or a chartered accountant will only run his office by giving job to only one person? No. There is no logic to joblessness claim. There are more jobs in the unorganised sector,” he asserted.
With the general elections looming, the strong rebuttal assumes significance as jobs has been the number one concern of voters in most surveys conducted so far. In a survey by Firstpost and YouGuv India, roughly 70 per cent youth who will be first-time voters said jobs is their biggest demand from the next government.
Although the Prime Minister cited EPFO and other supplementary data to back up his claim of job creation, economists have frequently said failure to release the NSSO report was the latest sign of a complete lack of transparency regarding jobs data.
They said that the government’s decision to discontinue the NSSO’s five-year surveys, failure to regularly release Labour Bureau data and delay in releasing the NSSO’s periodic labour force survey had led to an atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion.
But the PM said there is no “correct system” of collecting job data at present and his government is trying to put one in place.
Referring to the informal sector, he said, 36 lakh new large trucks/commercial vehicles, 1.5 crore passenger vehicles and 27 lakh new autos were sold. Have those been bought for parking, he asked, adding they are not included in the job data.
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He said 1.25 crore opportunities were created in hotel industry, 1.5 crore in tourism, besides a large number of jobs have been created by cab aggregators and through Mudra scheme. Cab aggregators are app-based but vehicles are not "driver-less," Modi said as he reeled out data on jobs created in different sectors.
He also took a jibe at previous non-BJP governments saying that in earlier times odd jobs created even in STD booths were cited in Parliament. The government has launched several initiatives like Skill India, Stand-Up India and Digital India aimed at promoting self-employment in the country.