Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday released his party's manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, with focus on jobs, farmers, industry, and women security. The Congress manifesto was released in the presence of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other party leaders, at Congress headquarters in New Delhi.
Speaking at the event, Rahul Gandhi said if his party was elected to power, its government would give the highest priority to protecting existing jobs and creating new jobs.
"Congress will radically simplify the GST regime with a single moderate rate of tax, zero rating of exports, and exemption for essential goods and services. We also promise panchayats and municipalities a share of GST revenues," said the manifesto.
If elected to power, the Congress President promises to create an "Enterprise Support Agency" to help entrepreneurs, including start-ups, with all-round business support including counselling, incubation, access to technology, funding, domestic and export markets, and the creation of new products, services and intellectual property.
Congress proposes to create a new "Ministry of Industry, Services and Employment", in a bid to underline the link between the growth of the industry and services sectors and rapid creation of jobs.
The Congress manifesto proposes to boost growth of the manufacturing sector, particularly of MSMEs, through the provision of "world-class infrastructure in industrial hubs and cluster towns" in order to aid the expansion of current units and the creation of new units.
In a bid to boost jobs in exports sector, the Congress party promises to reward "export oriented industries" through tax rebates and incentives.
"MSMEs account for 90 per cent of all employment outside agriculture. The definition of MSMEs based on capital employed is biased against labour. Congress will link the definition of "MSME to employment". A business employing 10 persons or less will be 'micro;' between 11 and 100 will
be 'small;' and between 101 and 500 will be 'medium," the Congress party said.
The Congress party promises "regulatory forbearance" for Micro and Small Enterprises. They will be exempt from all applicable laws and regulations (except the Minimum Wages Act and tax laws) for a period of 3 years from 1 April 2019 or, in the case of new businesses, the date of commencement of business. This means freedom from 'Inspector Raj'until they stabilise.
Congress will promote 'Mass Entrepreneurship' and support entrepreneurs to replicate tried and tested models of businesses in order to meet the growing demand for such goods and services, it said.
The main job-creating sectors are construction,textiles, leather, gems and jewellery, entertainment, tourism and retail businesses. "We will reward businesses that create new jobs by lowering the effective direct tax rates and by lowering contributions to the CSR fund."
The Congress proposes to provide "fiscal incentives" to businesses that employ a certain percentage of women.
In a bid to create jobs in tourism sector, the Congress promises an adequately capitalised "Tourism Development Bank" to provide low-cost, long-term funds for investment in tourism-related businesses. "We will also offer lower rates of corporate and personal income tax on tourism-related business income," it added.
The general elections will be held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19.
Edited by Chitranjan Kumar