Social security, that we can afford

    Social security, that we can afford

The Prime Minister’s Office has reportedly cleared the labour ministry’s proposal to launch a universal social security cover for 500 million workers, which includes farmers. The intent(इरादा/प्रयोजन ) is laudable(प्रशंसनीय), given that most of our workforce is in the unorganised(असंगठित) sector without any right to use institutional social security. But implementation(कार्यान्वयन/हथियार) costs and fiscal capacity to absorb the scheme must be weighed in. Estimates suggest that GoI will require about Rs 2 lakh crore when the scheme is fully rolled out for the lower 40% of the country’s workforce. The remaining 60% is expected to make contributions out of their own pocket, either fully or partially(आंशिक रूप से।/पक्षपात से) . But any sharp cutback in public investment for this purpose will depress(दबाना/मूल्य कम करना) growth at a time when the private sector’s animal spirits are still dormant(निष्क्रिय/शांत). The investment rate, stuck at about 28.5% in current prices, should rise to spur growth. The need is also for fiscal discipline to make growth sustainable.

Any widening of the fiscal deficit will fuel inflation(मुद्राप्रसार) and slow down growth. The social security scheme must be funded by axing inefficient(अप्रभावी/अयोग्य) subsidies—such as subsidised urea and free power to farmers offered by many states. Maximising investment, and not consumption out of public finances, will help lower the fiscal deficit(राजकोषीय घाटा). The implementation of the goods and services tax (GST)—that will lead to an increase in the taxpayer base and boost collections—offers hope. Public finances will improve as large swathes of the informal sector come under GST, providing fiscal space to meet welfare commitments(सौंपना/प्रतिबद्धता). Reforms in direct taxes should complement this effort.Many developed countries extend coverage to the unorganised sector under separate funds, or bring them gradually under the general system. In some countries, non-covered workers become eligible(योग्य) for the right to an eventual pension if they make voluntary contributions at a specified level. With greater formalisation of the Indian economy, workers should contribute to the National Pension System (NPS). Employers’ contribution, too, would go to the NPS, which provides a regulated institutional framework for pension funds to manage retirement savings and generate superior returns. This will lower the burden on the exchequer(खजाना).

Important Vocabulary

1.Partially(आंशिक रूप से।/पक्षपात से)
Synonyms: moderately, partly, somewhat, by degrees, by installments
Antonyms: completely, totally, wholly

2.Inefficient(अप्रभावी/अयोग्य)
Synonyms: disorganized, faulty, feeble, incompetent, ineffective
Antonyms: able, capable, competent, dexterous
effective

3.Exchequer(खजाना)
Synonyms: gift, money, prize, reward, wealth
Antonyms: penalty, punishment, debt, loss

4.Commitments(सौंपना/प्रतिबद्धता)
Synonyms: engagement, guarantee, need, pledge, promise
Antonyms: break, breach, irresponsibility, broken promise, denial

5.Dormant(निष्क्रिय/शांत).
Synonyms: asleep, comatose, inert, inoperative, latent
Antonyms: active, alert, awake, conscious, lively

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