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Labour reforms not to shrink job market, assures Jaitley

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Nov. 25

THE Union Commerce Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley, on Tuesday put to rest the fears of the trade unions that labour reforms would shrink the job market, saying that it would instead generate more opportunities in the long run.

``Labour reforms would be labour-friendly in the long run. They are aimed at making Indian industries competitive globally which will create more jobs though not in the short run,'' Mr Jaitley said at the concluding session at India Economic Summit 2003 here today where he communicated to audiences through videoconferencing. To a question from the floor, Mr Jaitley refrained from giving a time frame for labour reform legislations. He, however, expressed satisfaction at the Group of Ministers recommendations to go ahead with labour reform legislations.

In the meantime, the State Governments can go ahead with labour reforms with the approval of the Centre, he said. In the last Inter-State Council meeting, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu had shown keenness to enact labour reforms laws, which are in the concurrent list, he pointed out.

``I think in two to three years, work on labour reforms would pick up momentum,'' he said. Commenting on the Government's role, Mr Jaitley said, ``The Government function is to ensure security and safety of investment. However, the Government would continue to invest in infrastructure."

Reiterating India's commitment to multilateralism, Mr Jaitley said a dialogue process at WTO should restart to end the stalemate, which resulted in the collapse of Ministerial at Cancun.

``India is anxious that dialogue should proceed. India is committed to multilateralism and the stalemate at Cancun get resolved,'' he said. The Minister further said that areas like non-agricultural market access where there were less divergences, could be taken up initially, and added that dialogue on Singapore issues should proceed where they were left off at Cancun.

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