More funds for MGNREGS if needed, says Rural Development Ministry

Whenever additional fund is required it is provided. Govt is committed to release funds for wage and material payments for proper implementation of the scheme, the ministry said in a statement

February 03, 2023 07:57 pm | Updated February 04, 2023 07:50 am IST - New Delhi

Workers employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Telangana. File photo

Workers employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Telangana. File photo | Photo Credit: Rao G N

The cut in budgetary outlay for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) will not affect the programme’s objective of providing wage employment on demand and additional funds will be made available as and when the need arises, the Ministry of Rural Development said, in a clarification to news reports on the adverse impact of the budget cuts on the programme.

The Union Budget allocated only ₹60,000 crore for MGNREGS for 2023-24. That is 18% lower than the ₹73,000-crore budget estimate (BE) for the current year, and 33% lower than the ₹89,400-crore revised estimate (RE) for the scheme. Activists and Opposition leaders both panned the announcement saying that the move will choke the programme.

The Ministry in a statement said, “Whenever, additional fund is required, Ministry of Finance is requested to provide the funds. Govt. of India is committed to release funds for wage and material payments for proper implementation of the scheme, as per the provisions of the Act and guidelines applicable for Central Government as well as State Governments.”

Explained | The funding and demand for MGNREGS

The government said the assessment that the budget cut will affect the scheme’s objective of providing wage employment to rural households “is far from truth”.

“Mahatma Gandhi NREGA is a demand driven Scheme. Any household demanding employment shall be provided at least 100 days of unskilled manual work in a financial year in accordance with the Scheme. During the current FY 2022-23, a total of 99.81% rural households have been offered wage employment against their demand for work,” the statement said.

Citing the budgetary outlay for the previous financial years, the Ministry argued that the “actual released to the States has been much higher than that provided for at the BE level”. In the FY 2019-20, BE was ₹60,000 crore which got revised to ₹71,001 crore; for FY 2020-21 BE was ₹61,500 crore which increased in RE to ₹1,11,500 crore; for FY 2021-22 the BE of ₹73,000 crore was revised to ₹98,000 crore. Even during the current financial year, the BE was ₹73,000 crore, which was revised to ₹89,400 crore, the statement pointed out.

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