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Labour laws: Shourie favours decentralisation

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 22. The Union Disinvestment Minister, Arun Shourie, today suggested decentralisation of labour laws while seeking greater debate on government processes.

Apart from decentralisation of labour legislations, there should be "greater debate and much greater focus on government process,'' he said at a seminar organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and London School of Economics.

The Minister also emphasised the need for more special economic zones where Southeast Asian labour laws would apply. Certain processes were hampering growth and deterring foreign direct investment, he said and argued in favour of greater emphasis on enforcement mechanisms to curb corruption, recover loans and protect environment. Mr. Shourie said the role of regulators would become important in the next few years and called for introspection of the extent of micro management in decision-making.

"Debate on liberalisation has altered from a debate focussing on for and against a debate of detail,'' he said adding that liberalisation had proceeded far and critique to it was not being listened to.

Now that the economic liberalisation has really taken off, the priorities should be to tackle the deficit by cutting government subsidies and device new formulae for the distribution of funds between State and the federal government, he said.

Propagating a long-term approach for India, he sad "in India we do not look far ahead and are preoccupied with problems of the day. We should think 5-10 years ahead and that it must become a habit.''

He said focus should also be on projects, which would provide jobs to millions in the country and in turn stimulate the economy. "There are vast organised manpower that India must use," he said referring to untapped potential of retired defence and postal personnel.

Noting that average Indian has begun to realise the fruits of liberalisation, N. K. Singh, Member, Planning Commission, said there were still certain areas where it was not felt in a tangible way and it still remained a major challenge besides sustenance of bipartisan support for the process of liberalisation. Later the CII and the London School of Economics signed a memorandum of understanding to promote knowledge and exchange of information.

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