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Jobs, farm sector to fuel 7-8% growth

August 21, 2004 15:33 IST

Envisaging employment and agriculture oriented 7-8 per cent growth of the economy All India Congress Committee on Saturday sought a debate on reservations in the private sector and asked the government to revive industrial growth through deregulation, private investment and FDI in infrastructure, high technology and exports.

"The issue of affirmative action, including reservations in the private sector, has acquired great urgency. We need to immediately initiate a dialogue with all political parties, industry and other organisations to facilitate the private sector in fulfilling the aspirations of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe youth," AICC said in its draft resolution.

The draft said economic management should ensure 7-8 per cent economic growth in a sustained manner and prescribed a 40-point growth agenda. "We need job based growth, not the jobless growth of the 'feel good' years," it said.

The draft underscored the need for expanded social security, health insurance and other schemes for unorganised sector workers, who constitute 93 per cent of the workforce, and asked the government for changes in labour laws while fully "protecting" the interests of the workers and their families.

While suggesting steps for boosting agriculture and rural economy, the draft said the government should put industry on a robust footing through "deregulation, where necessary, and provide incentives to boost private investment and foreign direct investment, particularly in areas like infrastructure, high technology and exports."

Taking a dig at the previous National Democratic Alliance government, the AICC draft said the saga of corruption and exploitation evidenced by bank scam, UTI scam etc, had made India's governance a pathetic picture with "for sale" signs everywhere in government. That urgently required "appropriate corrective measures and accountability," it added.

It suggested "regulation" of urban cooperative banks and said banks in general have to be more effective and be given more autonomy. "The social obligation imposed by regulatory bodies on private banks and private insurance companies must be monitored and enforced strictly."

The draft sought incentives through interest rates for both investors and savers, particularly pensioners and senior citizens.

Reiterating the party's commitment to a "strong and effective public sector" whose social objectives are met by its commercial functioning, the AICC document said, "Divestment and privatisation cannot be a dogma and should be considered on a transparent and consultative case by case basis. Generally profit-making companies operating on a sustainable basis should not be privatised."

Advocating participatory development through effective Panchayati Raj, the draft said the programmes should enhance the welfare and well being of "kisans, khet mazdoors" and workers, particularly in the unorganised sector, and sought immediate enactment of the promised National Employment Guarantee Act that will provide a legal guarantee for at least 100 days of employment.

It also sought highest priority to the development of roads, ports, highways, power water supply etc.

"Public investment in infrastructure will need to be enhanced even as the role of private sector is expanded," AICC said.

Criticising the previous Bharatiya Janata Party-led government for giving "more opportunity to the advantaged few", the draft said Congress sought greatest advancement for the most disadvantaged and asked the government to fill up all the reservation quotas, including those relating to promotions, in a time bound manner.

While giving many sector specific suggestions, it asked the government to step up public investment in agriculture, rural infrastructure and irrigation and said rural credit system should be nursed back to health with emphasis on delivery system.

Calling for urgently clearing all the outstanding dues of farmers, it said there was also a need to attend to the burden of debt and high interest rates and added that special attention should be paid by marketing and procurement agencies to farmers in poor and backward areas.

The draft said that special packages announced by the previous governments for North-East, Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir be implemented expeditiously and emphasised on making the National Development Council an "effective instrument" of cooperative federalism.

On the issue of the Centre-state relations, the resolution said there was a need to set up a new Commission for the purpose in tune with changes that have taken place in the polity and economy of India since the setting up of Sarkaria Commission two decades ago.

Pointing to the need for "urgent resolution of problems of water sharing", it said that long pending schemes in specific states that have national significance, like Sethu Samutharam, prevention of erosion in Padma-Ganga and Bhagirithi flood control in West Bengal needed to be completed expeditiously.

Expressing satisfaction that the United Progressive Alliance government had been able to secure the World Trade Organisation agreement that would protect Indian agriculture and industry, it said, "India's quest to be an economic power with a voice in the highest fora cannot overlook the fact that India's economic success must touch the lives of all our people in a meaningful way.

"India's commitment to an efficient global system of trade must be seen in the context of India's obligation to its poor and disadvantaged and its resolve to free them from poverty and deprivation in our lifetime," it added.
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