Recently, the Ministry of Labour & Employment has Issued an advisory to all States/UTs to use the Cess Fund for Welfare of Construction Workers.
- The advisory comes under Section 60 of the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Act, 1996.
- The Act regulates the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers.
- It provides for their safety, health and welfare measures and for other matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- All State Governments/UTs have been advised to transfer funds from the Cess Fund to the account of construction workers through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.
- The amount to be granted to construction workers may be decided by the respective state governments and Union territories.
- The financial assistance at this point in time would help to mitigate the financial crisis of construction workers to some extent and boost their morale to deal with COVID-19.
- About the Cess Fund
- The BOCW Cess Act, 1996, provides for the levy and collection of cess at 1-2 % of the cost of construction, as the Central government may notify.
- The cess has been levied at the rate of 1% of the cost of construction, as notified by the Central government in its official gazette.
- The cess is collected by the State governments and UTs.
- It is utilised for the welfare of building and other construction workers by the respective State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Boards.
- Cess is a form of tax levied over and above the base tax liability of a taxpayer.
- Cess is resorted to only when there is a need to meet the particular expenditure for public welfare.
- Cess is not a permanent source of revenue for the government, and it is discontinued when the purpose of levying it is fulfilled.
- It can be levied on both indirect and direct taxes.
- Examples :
- Swachh Bharat Cess: Introduced in 2015, a 0.5% Swachh Bharat cess was imposed to fund a national campaign for clearing the roads, streets and the infrastructure of India.
- Infrastructure Cess: Announced in Union Budget 2016, this cess was charged on the production of vehicles.