Union Ministry of Rural Development has, however, sought additional resources for the scheme
The Union Ministry of Rural Development claimed in Lok Sabha November 30, 2021 that there were “enough funds” to support the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme. The claim came even as over Rs 1,200 crore in MGNREGA wages have been pending and the Union government’s financial statement shows a negative balance.
The ministry, however, added that it has sought additional resources for the scheme.
Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, minister of state, rural development, November 30 said: “There are enough funds with the scheme to fulfill all liabilities of the scheme for the states which have met the entire conditions for release of second tranche of funds. The ministry has already sought additional resources for the scheme.”
He was responding to a question on state governments running out of funds for the scheme.
There was a negative net balance of Rs 10,310 crore as on December 2, 2021, according to MGNREGA’s financial statement on the online Management Information System.
Rs 1,281 crore was due in unskilled wages, at a time when scores of workers are relying on MGNREGA as a last resort to earn a living in the face of huge employment loss across the country due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Out of Rs1,281 crore, 65 per cent of pending wages were from just three states — Manipur, Nagaland and Uttar Pradesh.
The beneficiaries are entitled to get wage payment within 15 days of closure of muster roll of the work, according to provisions under the Act.
Payments worth Rs 8,686 crore were also due to the state in material and administrative components.
Rs 73,000 crore was allocated for MGNREGA in the budget for the current financial year (2021-22), an 18 per cent increase in funds allocation compared to the previous financial year.
MGNREGA assumed renewed significance during the pandemic when millions of workers migrated to rural areas, causing an unprecedented surge in demand for work under the programme. Even after the lockdowns were eased or lifted, the demand for work has remained high, owing to job losses in different sectors.
In November, over 26 million people demanded work under MGNREGA. It was 19 million in 2019-20 (pre-pandemic period).
In the monsoon months (June -September), when demand under the scheme ebbs, between 30 and 50 million people demanded work each month in 2021.
As many as 18-33 million and 17-35 million demanded work in the corresponding period in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively.
During the financial year (FY) 2020-21, a total of 18 million new job cards were issued, the government told the Lok Sabha on November 30.
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