GUWAHATI, Aug 24 - Noting that post-lockdown unemployment in Assam will be a big challenge, the Advisory Committee for Revitalization of the State�s Economy in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic situation has called for a pragmatic policy with thrust on skill upgrade and self-employment generation.
The panel headed by SC Das in its report said that the State would witness unemployment to the tune of around 20 lakh people out of which 40 to 50 per cent would be frictional in nature, which includes four to five lakh returned migrants.
�This group of people will seek short-term employment opportunities and is expected to regain their employment in due course as the economy begins to recover, especially those who are skilled or semi-skilled. This leaves us with the target of creating employment for some 10 to 12 lakh substantive job-seekers,� it said.
�Finding avenues to provide employment to the migrants as well as others is of utmost importance. The challenges are, however, many. The first challenge relates to the deceleration in the economic growth itself. When economy grows it creates scope and avenues of employment. As has been projected earlier, consequent upon the COVID-19 situation, the State�s economy is going to witness a contraction. This will structurally limit the scope of creation of employment. Secondly, it is evident that most of the unemployed will congregate in rural areas,� it added.
Stating that with all institutional constraints in agriculture, absorbing the vast majority of people in rural economy was going to be extremely demanding, the report suggested developing skills for wage or self employment.
As there is already a large pool of educated unemployed in the State, the report added, they will also expect to be provided with employment along with all others.
The panel called for planning of employment or livelihood keeping in view the five sections of people � persons rendered jobless locally due to COVID-19 and lockdown, workers returning to villages from various places within the State as a result of lockdown, migrants returning from other states who have lost their livelihood during lockdown, unemployed youth, specifically the educated ones, and all others who may join the rank of the unemployed in due course of time.
�The first three groups are to be addressed immediately since these groups were having employment and income prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and loss of their employment and income means abrupt fall in the level of aggregate demand in the economy. Secondly and most importantly, sudden increase in the reserve of the unemployed, particularly in the rural areas, due to the joining of these three sections will further depress the general wage level in the economy. Therefore, it is an urgent necessity that these sections are provided with employment immediately, i.e., in the short run to arrest the depressing tendencies in the economy,� it said.
Recommending medium-term interventions for the last two groups, the panel emphasized on a �well-thought-out perspective planning for employment creation, given the situation and demand.�
The perspective planning for employment, the report said, requires arriving at reasonable targets across sectors. �These targets depend on number of jobs in demand, feasible number of jobs which can be created across sectors, data related to inter-sectoral linkages, data regarding employment elasticity of growth in various sectors, etc. These data, however, are not readily available. One has to, therefore, work out estimates based on existing evidences and experiences and initiate a quick survey to strengthen the estimates,� it said.
Noting that there were groups in villages looking for work because of the disruption in their existing livelihoods such as the weavers at Sualkuchi, the japi-makers at Nalbari and other such traditional artisans, the panel said that they were skilled workers and need to be assisted immediately, as their survival was under severe threat.
�The households that are self-employed/entrepreneurs in these traditional trades need to be supported so that they remain in the existing trade and are not forced to join the ranks of the unemployed. Keeping them in the existing livelihoods by extending little support will be far more pragmatic than allowing them to give up their existing vocation and come out for alternative employment,� it said.