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TUs pitch for 12% PF rate; cut in fuel prices
June 05, 2004 17:26 IST
Last Updated: June 05, 2004 17:38 IST
In an era of falling interest rates, major trade unions on Friday pitched for restoring 12 per cent return on small savings schemes, including Employees Provident Fund, Public Provident Fund and General Provident Fund, as a social security to the salaried class and demanded cut in LPG, kerosene, diesel and petrol prices to check inflation.
During a three-hour pre-Budget meeting with Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Left trade unions, particularly Centre of Indian Trade Unions and All India Trade Union Congress, demanded that the income tax limit be raised to Rs 100,000 and stringent action taken to recover outstanding dues of over Rs 87,000 crore (Rs 870 billion).
Besides asking the government to increase taxes on companies, they said the Centre should subsidise the increased 12 per cent interest on small savings schemes by considering the cost incurred towards this as "expenditure on social security."
Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress was silent on any particular returns on the EPF but wanted a relook at investment patterns of EPFO to take care of the impact of inflation since, at present, PF money is invested in low-yielding government papers and bonds.
They also demanded reversal of National Democratic Alliance government's decision to replace the benefit scheme by defined contribution for new entrants in government service.
With a view to ensuring higher industrial growth, INTUC said the Budget should give a positive direction to attract huge FDI as in China to create employment opportunities. It said FDI in China was responsible for 25 per cent of the new jobs, while in India the new employment was virtually stagnant.
CITU demanded raising Income-Tax exemption and extension of benefits of standard deduction to pensioners, who mainly depend on pension or interest income on savings.
The left unions also demanded steps to unearth tax dues and arrears and curb defaults, apart from recovering huge bad assets (or non-performing assets) in the banking sector.
It called for stopping of divesment of profit-making PSUs and a comprehensive legislation for the agricultural labourers and enactment of the National Employment Guarantee Act as promised in the Common Minimum Programme.
Pointing out that the previous government had brought out a scheme for unorganised sector without legislative backing, CITU said there should be speedy enactment of the Unorganised Sector Workers Bill, while AITUC asked for budgetary support to the tune of 3.0 per cent of GDP for the purpose.
Elaborating on the revival of sick units, INTUC asked the finance minister that workers should be given first option for takeover of these industries and government should waive the accrued liabilities and provide reasonable working capital for turning such industries to profit making institutions.
While INTUC voiced for workers' participation in management through necessary legislative changes, both CITU and AITUC were silent on the issue.
Moreover, INTUC also demanded setting up of workers' capital trust, which could even invest in equity markets, for providing pension to government employees even as it was apprehensive of handing the new pension scheme to private players because of the risks involved in it.
On the contract labour, INTUC said certain amendments would have to be carried out for making such workers permanent and added that unions would have to be consulted on it.
Both the Congress and Left Unions were unanimous in calling for reviving the public distribution scheme mainly benefiting the poor.
The Congress-affiliated union also asked for early implementation of value added tax.
Hind Mazdoor Sabha asked for setting up of interstate river water grid and sought agricultural income tax.
It also asked for Skill Development Fund for workers in the formal and informal sector.