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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday, December 9, gave its nod to the new employment scheme that would help businesses conduct fresh hirings amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Centre approved the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana' (ABRY) which would for two years provide employee and employer contribution to the retirement fund for new hires made by businesses and entities.
Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar, while announcing the approval, said that the scheme till 2023 would entail an outlay of ₹22,810 crores and benefit 58.5 lakh employees.
"The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has given its approval for Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana to boost employment in the formal sector and incentivize creation of new employment opportunities during the COVID recovery phase under Atmanirbhar Bharat Package 3.0," according to an official release.
The current financial year would witness an expenditure of ₹1,584 crores for the implementation of the scheme.
The government will provide a subsidy for two years pertaining to the new employees engaged on or after October 1, 2020, and up to June 30, 2021. The scheme would apply to establishments for two years.
Employees joining establishments with monthly wages less than ₹15,000 will be covered under the scheme.
The Labour Minister said that the government would pay both 12 per cent employees' contribution and 12 per cent employers' contribution — 24 per cent of wages towards EPF (Employee Provident Fund) in respect of new employees in organisations employing up to 1,000 employees for two years.
Establishments employing more than 1000 employees, only employee's EPF contributions (12% of EPF wages) will be contributed by the central government.
"An employee drawing monthly wage of less than ₹15,000 who was not working in any establishment registered with the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) before October 1, 2020 and did not have a Universal Account Number (UAN) or EPF Member account number prior to October 1, 2020 will be eligible for the benefit," explained the release.
It further added that any EPFO (Employees' Provident Fund Organisation) member possessing Universal Account Number (UAN) drawing monthly wages less than ₹15,000 and exited employment during coronavirus pandemic from March 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020, and did not join employment in any EPF covered establishment up to September 30, 2020, will also be eligible to avail the benefit.
Regarding the transfer of the benefit, it was said that the EPFO will credit the contribution in Aadhaar seeded account of members digitally.
Additionally, media reports highlighted that software would be developed to ensure proper implementation of the scheme and that would also make the process transparent and accountable. It will work out the modality to ensure that there is no overlapping of benefits provided under the ABRY with any other scheme implemented by the EPFO.
Centre also approved the establishment of public Wi-Fi networks across the country which would be provided through Public Data Offices (PDOs).
"There will be no licence, fee or registration for it," said Information Technology (IT) Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, reported LiveMint.
The Prime Minister Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) scheme will involve multiple participants, including PDOs, Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOA), app providers, and a central registry.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the PM-WANI scheme "historic". He added that the scheme will completely revolutionise the tech industry and will also substantially aid in improving the wireless connectivity of the country.
The PDOs will be established on the lines of Public Call Offices (PCOs) which will establish, maintain and operate only WANI compliant Wi-Fi Access Points and deliver broadband services to subscribers. PDO Aggregators (PDOAs) will also be set up. These will perform the function of authorisation and accounting of the numerous PDOs.
It will develop an application which will register users on the network and discover PM-WANI compliant WiFi hotspots nearby. The details of all three will be maintained by a central registry. The registry will be handled by the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT).
"Availability and use of broadband will enhance incomes, employment, quality of life, ease of doing business, etc." the ministry added.
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