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NAC draft Bill urges cess for unorganised sector

Ambarish Mukherjee

New Delhi , Aug 25

THE National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Congress President Ms Sonia Gandhi has suggested a cess to fund the social security needs of the approximately 37 crore workers in the unorganised sector.

However, the NAC is silent on whether the cess would be imposed as an addition to the income tax, as often done to handle natural disasters, or as sector-specific cess like the one imposed on petrol and diesel for road construction.

A draft Bill titled `The Unorganised Sector Workers Social Security Act 2005', prepared by the NAC and sent to the Ministry of Labour, says that the social security of unorganised sectors would be achieved through tripartite contributions from the employers, workers and the Government.

However, the Bill says that there shall be floor-level schemes funded directly by the Centre for which resources would be mobilised by any means, including imposition of a cess or contributions.

Such floor-level schemes, according to the draft, will include health, life, permanent disability insurance and maternity benefit without contribution from the worker, as well as a contributory old-age benefit scheme, including pension.

The draft also proposes to set up a national Social Security Authority for the Unorganised Sector to formulate policies and, if necessary, set up welfare boards for specific sectors, and would constitute one supervisory board and one executive office.

The Bill also proposes setting up employment exchanges for workers in the unorganised sector.

This new Bill will replace the previous Bill drafted by the erstwhile NDA Government.

The Government plans to bring in two bills for the unorganised sector.

The first Bill, for which the committee headed by Ms Gandhi has already prepared the draft, is the Unorganised Sector Workers Social Security Bill, 2005. This will cover all workers in the unorganised sector with a monthly income of Rs 5,000 and below. The number of workers is estimated to be around 30 crore.

The second Bill would be the Unorganised Sector Workers (Conditions of Work and Livelihood Promotion) Bill, 2005.

This seeks to address work conditions for wage workers in the unorganised sector, to provide a minimum standard on hours of work, payment of minimum wages and adherence to Bonded Labour Abolition Act and Child Labour Prohibition & Regulation Act, officials said.

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