Standing committee proposes a complete revamp of MGNREGA scheme

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Economic Times, February 08, 2022

The standing committee on rural development has suggested a complete revamp of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme keeping in view the changing times and emerging challenges particularly in wake of the COVID pandemic.

In its critical analysis of the scheme, the committee has suggested that the number of guaranteed work days under the scheme be raised to 150 from 100, its wages be revised upwards, 60:40 wage and material ratio should be reviewed and giving free basic medical facilities to all job card holders.

“The committee strongly recommends the department of rural development to undertake a holistic review of the scheme MGNREGA in such a way which could ensure an increase of guaranteed days of work from 100 to 150 days,” the committee said in its report submitted to Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

“The committee is also of the strong opinion that in prevailing situation of Covid needs or the Omicron pandemic, it is imperative that all labourers working under MGNREGA must be given free basic medical facilities attached with job cards at the doorstep of respective villages,” it added.

As per the report, the committee strongly believe that value addition to the scheme such as skilling of labourers in different aspects, introduction of provision to upgrade the quality of life of the beneficiaries, increased utilization of technologies and software to ward off obstacles associated with wage transfer and verification of job cards are required changes needed to the scheme.

Analyzing the budgetary allocation to the scheme year after year and substantial hike in the revised estimates each year, the Committee firmed up the view that the scheme is definitely showing an increase in demand as elicited by the ever increasing budgetary demand.

“The committee is of the view that budgetary allocation of a scheme of such enormous magnitude should be done in a more pragmatic manner so that there is no dearth of funds in mid-year and flow of funds for payment of wages, material share, etc. is maintained seamlessly,” it said.

The government has retained the allocation to Mgnrega for 2022-23 at Rs 73,000 crore, same as 2022-23 though there has been an upward revision to Rs 98,000 crore for the current financial year.

As per the report, wage liabilities of Rs 2763.78 crore stands under the scheme as on November 5, 2021. “No reason is good enough for such huge pendencies and hence, the committee, in all earnest, calls upon the department of rural development to ‘pull up its socks’ and take all possible measures to wipe off the wage liabilities as soon as possible,” it added.

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