Wages for MGNREGA Mates prioritised 

Under new system, State governments need to clear payments to Mates or supervisors before clearing vendor bills

December 02, 2022 07:40 pm | Updated 07:40 pm IST - New Delhi

Image used for representative purpose only.

Image used for representative purpose only. | Photo Credit: G.N. Rao

Heeding to persistent complaints from Mates or site supervisors that their wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) are inordinately delayed, the Union Rural Development Ministry has devised a protocol to prioritise payment to Mates.  

Under MGNREGA, wages of unskilled workers is to be paid within 15 days and if there is a delay, the Centre has to compensate them. Mates - who are the frontline supervisors of the programmes - are listed as semi-skilled workers because of the specialist nature of their job. What should have been a leg-up for them has unfortunately ended up being a complication.

Their wages come from the “material component”, 60% of which is paid by the Union government. This component is now being released erratically, caught up in bureaucratic delays and chronic fund crunch. Owing to the delay, in many States, the Mates have started listing themselves as unskilled workers to get the wages on time. The difference in wages as compared to the unskilled workers is usually minor and they can beat the delay in the payments for semi-skilled workers which can go up to a year.

The Ministry, to resolve this bind, has streamlined the process by which the attendance and wages of the Mates are recorded. “The muster roll for Mates must be issued soon after generating muster roll for unskilled workers. In the software, all other options will be disabled till this is done. It is also proposed that reports on day-wise pendency in payment to Mates may be generated,” a senior official said.

Since Mate payments are made under the “material component”, often State governments clear the vendor bills related to supply of raw material for the construction before clearing Mates’ payments. “The main intervention is that the States will have to clear the payments for the Mates, before they can distribute the funds to the vendors,” the official added.

A State government official though said this “is only a half-measure”. “Ideally the Mates’ wages should be completely delinked with the material component. Even with the new system we will have to wait for funds for the material component,” an official of Rajasthan Rural Development Department said.

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