Statement by Hon’ble Shri Mallikarjun Kharge, Minister of Labour and Employment, Government of India, at the meeting of Ministers of Labour of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) (Geneva, 15 June 2009)
Your Excellency, the Minister of Labour and Social Security of the Government of the Republic of Cuba and the Chairperson of the Ministerial Meeting of the NAM Ministers of Labour, Honourable Ministers and Heads of Delegations, distinguished delegates,
At the outset, we convey our appreciation to Your Excellency and other members of the Cuban delegation for organizing this meeting and compliment you for maintaining the tradition of organizing the meeting of NAM Labour Ministers on the margins of the International Labour Conference. We endorse strongly the Draft Declaration on the international Economic and Financial Crisis, to be adopted at the conclusion of this meeting.
We take this opportunity to reaffirm India’s unwavering commitment to the purposes and principles of the Non-aligned Movement. We also reiterate the imperative of co-operation among Non-aligned and other developing countries, both in our interaction with the industrialized countries in the United Nations and multilateral forums, as well as for fostering South-South Cooperation. In the current climate of the global economic and financial crisis, such cooperation becomes all the more important.
While developing countries did not cause the current global economic and financial crisis, we are its unfortunate victims on account of the adverse consequences such as falling export revenues, loss of employment, fall in tourism and reverse migration. Fiscal deficits have escalated as a result of the economic stimulus packages which many of our governments have been forced to put in place. There is a danger that ODA flows to the developing countries may come down. All these will have serious implications for resource allocation in social sector spending and, consequently, on employment, in our countries. The impact has been severe on the export sector and migrant workers. We will need to be extra vigilant to ensure the resources allocated to employment generation are not brought down significantly.
Even before the onset of the current crisis, NAM and other developing countries had been facing serious resource constraints which limited our ability to address the challenges of persistent hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity. The dramatic rise of prices of fuel and food had compounded these challenges. The current crisis is bound to exacerbate them.
The impact of the crisis on employment and social protection is unprecedented. Rightfully, the International Labour Organisation, in its 90th year and at the 98th Session of the Intertional Labour Conference, is focussing on the global job crisis as a direct consequence of the economic and financial meltdown. Millions have lost their jobs, sustainable enterprises have gone under, small and medium scale industries are feeling the credit squeeze and unemployment will continue to rise with its consequences on poverty, particularly in the informal segments. It is acknowledged that there will be a time lag between economic recovery and recovery in the employment sector. ILO’s role becomes all the more relevant, both to address the time lag and to provide modalities for shortening the slack between economic recovery and jobs recovery. Such measures will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the social and political stability of our societies. In this context, we hope that the global jobs pact proposed by Director-General of ILO will provide a comprehensive framework with appropriate policy guidelines and comprehensive strategies to counter the job crisis.
We reiterate the need for efforts by NAM countries towards improving the working methods of the Committee on Application of Standards which tend to focus almost exclusively on the developing countries. The work of this committee should reflect transparency, objectivity and clearly defined criteria in its functioning. The committee needs to strike a balance on the issues it addresses, both in terms of the standards it focuses on as well as the countries it applies them to. Instilling transparency in its operations will no doubt enhance the credibility of such supervisory bodies. The committee should ensure the genuineness of a complaint against any country by requesting a preliminary response from the governments concerned. In this regard, the committee should also take into account the various institutional mechanisms and the judicial redressals available in the country while formulating its opinion on the merits of any case.
In conclusion, we would emphasize the need for strengthening South-South Cooperation in the area of employment generation for exchange of experiences, enhancement of national capacities, strengthening of regulatory systems and development of human resources.