On 30th November, the Union Minister of Rural Development affirmed in Lok Sabha that there were “enough funds” to bear the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme. The claim came also as almost over Rs 1,200 crore in MGNREGA wages have been unresolved and the financial statement of the Union Government presents a negative balance.
However, the ministry added that it has looked for additional resources for the scheme.
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On 30th November, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti who is the minister of state, rural development, stated, “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 replying to a question on state governments flowing out of funds for this scheme.
On 2nd December 2021, there was a negative net balance of almost Rs 10,310 crore, according to the financial statement of MGNREGA on the online Management Information System.
In unskilled wages Rs 1,281 crore was due, at a moment when scores of workers are depending on MGNREGA as a last place to earn living in the time of high employment loss throughout the nation because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
65% of pending wages were just from 3 states out of Rs 1,281 crore. The 3 states are Manipur, Nagaland, and Uttar Pradesh.
Within 15 days of ending of muster roll of the work, the beneficiaries are bound to receive wage payment, according to provisions under the certain Act.
In material and administrative components payments of worth Rs 8,686 crore were even due to the state.
For the ongoing financial year (2021-22) Rs 73,000 was allotted for MGNREGA in the budget, an 18% raise in funds allotted as compared to the last financial year.
MGNREGA presumed renewed importance during the Covid-19 pandemic when many workers migrated to the rural parts, causing an extraordinary rise in demand for work under the certain programme. Even after the lockdowns were lifted or eased, the demand for work stayed high, owing to losses in jobs in various sectors.
Over 26 million people asked for work under MGNREGA in November. It was almost 19 million in 2019-20 (the period before pandemic).
In the months of June-September (monsoon months), demanded under the scheme ebbs, among 30 and 50 million people asked for work every month in 2021.
Almost 18-33 million in 2018-19 and 17-35 million in 2019-20 asked for work.
18 million fresh job cards were issued during the financial year (FY) 2020-21, the government stated in the Lok Sabha on 30th November.