NGOs object to proposal to slash MGNREGA scheme budget

Some NGOs have objected to the Union government’s proposal to slash the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme budget for the coming year. They are apprehensive that it will continue to reduce rural spending.

“This is a negative step, definitely. It will have a serious detrimental impact on the rural economy,” said Sidagouda Modagi, farmers’ leader and president of the Bharatiya Krishik Samaj district unit on Sunday.

He said that the Union Budget reduced allocation to the scheme by around ₹9,000 crore, which means a 13% reduction in outlay.

“It is wrong to think that the villages are disconnected from the national economy. If farm distress is resolved, the Indian economy would automatically improve. Farmers, and landless labourers are consumers of various goods and services. To do that, they need money and MNREGA helps them by pushing up the wages and creating jobs. Reducing allocation is a retrograde step,” he said.

“Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman kept talking about leaving more money in the hands of the common man. The easiest way to do it was to ensure effective implementation of MNREGA and increased allocation for the rural jobs scheme,” says Jayashree Gurannanavar, farmers’ leader.

“Apart from stemming migration to cities, MNREGA had the direct effect of making landless labourers self-reliant. But the government does not seem to want to do that. That is unfortunate,” she said.

“We were not surprised by the announcement. This was expected,” says Dileep Kamat, a founding member of the Grameena Kooli Karmikara Sangha that works to ensure that the benefits of the scheme reach a larger number of people.

“MNREGA is one of the most progressive Acts in recent decades. It is a scheme to preserve and protect the self respect of a villager. But that does not seem to be happening,” he said.

``On the one hand, the government says it is worried about the economy. On the other, it take steps that can further damage the economy. If the government was really serious about increasing the pace of economic development, it should have supplemented the MNREGA with funds. It is sad that the government is neglecting aspirations of 70% of the population,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 12:24:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/ngos-object-to-proposal-to-slash-mgnrega-scheme-budget/article30720144.ece

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