Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
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Each Board should be financed by means of an annual cess levied on all plantations within its area. A minimum amount should be laid down in the statute constituting the Board, and this should be fixed high enough to ensure that the Board will have a surplus income sufficiently large to permit of active advance being made in the improvement of health conditions, after providing for all essential activities including the payment of an adequate staff. We estimate that the approximate cost of the staff and establishment, inclusive of salaries, rents and allowances, would amount to about Rs. 70, 000 in the case of the larger Boards, although for the smaller Boards smaller amounts would suffice. The Board should have authority, subject to this minimum and to an agreed maximum, to fix a rate of cess for each year recoverable as a public demand. In Ceylon the Medical Wants Ordinance for the plantation districts has been financed by an export cess of 15 cents per 100 lbs. of tea, 15 cents per 100 lbs. of cocoa and 75 cents per 100 lbs. of rubber. We do not suggest that this method is suitable for India and we put forward two alternatives for consideration. In one the cess would be based on planted acreage and in the other on resident population. We recommend that a final decision in this matter be taken after consultation between the local Governments and the industry, but whichever method is adopted, the cess should be so fixed as to give each Board the surplus income which is so necessary. As it is important that the formation of Boards should not discourage private enterprise, where this is directed along proper channels, we advocate the adoption of the system in force in Ceylon, where rebates of the cess are made to estates according to a system of marks awarded by the medical inspecting authorities for housing, medical facilities, anti-malaria work and other amenities of which they approve. It should be laid down, however, that in no case will the rebate exceed two-thirds of the amount of cess collected.
We are not unmindful of the difficulties of the present position in the matter of finance, and the proposals made in this chapter should be read subject to what is said in the opening paragraph of Chapter XIV.
We would add that we understand that there is an accumulated balance of close on 4 lakhs of rupees at the credit of the Assam Labour Board, whose abolition we have recommended. If our recommendations are accepted, we consider that the residue, after meeting all proper expenses involved in winding up the affairs of the Board, could equitably be transferred to the Boards of Health and Welfare in Assam. The money in question has been collected by statute from the industry and it would thus go to diminish charges which the industry would be called upon to meet under another statute. We recommend the examination of this possibility by Government, in consultation with the industry.