Parliamentary panel pulls up department for less budgetary allocation to MGNREGA

Economic Times, March 17, 2022

The parliamentary standing committee on rural development has pulled up the department for lower budgetary allocation, specifically to the rural employment guarantee scheme, saying it may impact the pace of implementation of the rural development scheme.

The committee, headed by Prataprao Jadhav, has suggested the department seek higher allocation from the ministry of finance while sprucing up the financial management of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme.

According to the committee, while the budget estimate (BE) for 2021-22 was Rs 1.31 lakh crores and rose to Rs. 1.54 lakh crores at revised estimate stage, the budgetary allocation sought for the financial year 2022-23 stands at Rs 1.35 lakh crores, which is a meager hike of 3.36%.

Specifically pointing out to the budgetary allocation to MGNREGA, the Committee said that the BE for 2022-23 has been kept static at Rs 73,000 crores similar as that of 2021-22 even when the RE for MGNREGArose to Rs 98,000 crores in the ongoing fiscal.

“The Committee are perplexed at this situation and are concerned for the pace of implementation of rural development schemes with such funds,” it said.

“The Committee recommends the DoRD to relook at its calculation and suitably approach the ministry of finance for higher allocation of funds in order to speed up the pace of rural development schemes for dearth of budget,” the committee said in its report, tabled in Parliament, on Wednesday.

Pending wages under Mgnrega

According to the committee, Rs 4,060 crore were lying as pending wages and Rs 9,000 crores remains pending against the material component under Mgnrega.

“The Committee finds these figures alarming in nature more so when both the aspect of MGNREGA, i.e. a demand driven nature of the scheme and creation of assets under the scheme are severely hampered through such pendencies,” it said.

The committee said it was startled to note that even after such an existing scenario, the BE for MGNREGA has been reduced from the Rs 78,000 crore, as sought by DoRD, to Rs 73,000 crore for the financial year 2022-23.

“Any administrative or procedural lapse causing such delays are completely uncalled for and unacceptable in the context of a scheme of such enormous proportion,” it said.

“Therefore, the committee strongly recommend DoRD to spruce up its financial management of the scheme and tighten their grip on the fallacies that may have crept in the implementation of MGNREGA at ground level for the earliest eradication of pendencies in wages and material components,” it added.

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