Ministers evading questions on job loss in Parliament

New Delhi, Dec 10

A question on job losses in the struggling auto sector in the Parliament on Tuesday received an evasive answer by the Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries that the department had "no specific information of job loss" in the sector.

On Monday, Union Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar had said that there is nothing to show that demonetisation caused job losses. Gangwar's reply had come in response to a question by Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banarjee who said that thousand of labourers in Srerampur, West Bengal, lost their jobs due to the note ban.

"No specific information in this regard (details of overall job creation and jobs lost in the automobile sector since 2015) is available with the department," Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Arjun Ram Meghwal, said on Tuesday in a written reply.

He further said that "no closure of any automobile or ancillary manufacturing units has been reported to the government".

The minister's answer came in response to a question by Congress MP from Tamil Nadu, Jothimani Sennimalai, who said: "(Where are) the details of overall job creation and job lost in the automobile sector since 2015 and the details of the same in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka?"

Industry body Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) had said earlier this year that around two lakh jobs have been cut across automobile dealerships in India in just three months from May to July this year.

Auto sales in India have been on the decline over the past 12 months. Overall domestic auto sales declined by over 12 per cent last month, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on Tuesday.

Besides, the NSSO's Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data showed that unemployment rate in the country currently stood at 6.1 per cent, a 45-year high.

However, minister after minister have been skirting data coming even from official channels. The release of PLFS data was held back earlier as the government said that it wanted to present a complete picture on unemployment with monthly comparative analysis.

"Lack of information on job losses begets a question: Shouldn't all government departments bear a record of job losses in their respective sectors with the same enthusiasm as announcing forecasts of job creation while launching new schemes in advertisements," asked an economist who had earlier raised doubts over the credibility of government data. He did not wish to be named.