As many as 5.48 million people secured new formal jobs or got re-employment in the formal sector till March-end 2022, the end date, under a provident fund subsidy scheme launched by the government in late 2020. The revised target for the scheme — Atmanirbhar Rojgar Prosthan Yojona (ABRY) — was 7.18 million job creation/re-employment.
Under the ABRY, the Centre credits for a period of two years both the employees’ share (12% of wages) and employers’ share (12% of wages) of PF contribution for firms employing up to 1,000 people and the employees’ share for workers in units employing more than 1,000 people who earn less than Rs 15,000 a month.
Also, establishments taking new employees on or after October 2020 and up to March 2022 or employing again those who lost their jobs between March 2020 to September 2020 are eligible to avail the scheme. The scheme was announced several months after the first wave of the coronavirus which adversely affected economic activities and commerce in the country in March, 2020. While registration window for the scheme ended on March 31, those registered will continue to receive the benefits for two years from the date of registration under the scheme.
Labour economist and XLRI professor KR Shyam Sundar said employers will not have sufficient incentive to create job if the aggregate demand in the economy is relatively weaker.
“Along with the PF subsidy, which is supply-side, the government should have introduced direct benefit transfer (DBT) to put money in the pockets of people which would have strengthened the demand side of the product markets. Excessive concentration of the supply side and neglect of the demand side has been the principal concern, leading to labour market crisis,” he said.
ABRY was announced as one of the measures under Aatmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 package to boost the economy and increase employment generation in formal sector during post Covid recovery phase. The scheme was intended to minimise the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the country’s economy and ameliorating the hardship faced by low paid workers.
While approving the scheme in December 2020, the Cabinet had pegged the scheme expenditure at `22,810 crore for the entire scheme period of 2020-2023. In June last year, the terminal date of registration of beneficiaries was extended by nine months to March 2022, but the estimated expenditure amount was reduced to Rs 22,098 crore. At the same time, the number of targeted beneficiaries was increased to 7.18 million from the earlier projection of 5.85 million.