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Fund crunch: 88% of NREGA budget over, 6 months left

Last financial year, of the additional Rs 15,000 crore that the MoRD sought in supplementary demands, the Finance Ministry cleared only Rs 9,000 crore.

Written by Shalini Nair | New Delhi | Updated: October 19, 2017 7:16 am
narendra modi, nda government, NREGA, NREGA fund, MGNREGA, mahatma gandhi national rural employment guarantee act, nrega jobs,, rural development, rural employment, nrega fund, nrega fund allocation, MGNREGA, MGNREGA wages, working wages, farmer wages, farm wages, niti aayog, mnrega scheme, BJP, The shortage of funds comes even as the demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is expected to peak from next month, after the harvest of Kharif crops.

Despite the Centre’s claim that this year’s MGNREGA budget is the highest ever, almost 88 per cent of the funds available for the scheme have already been exhausted, just halfway through the financial year. As of next week, only Rs 6,000 crore of the Rs 48,000 crore budget allocation for 2017-18 will be left for implementation of the scheme over the next six months.

The shortage of funds comes even as the demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is expected to peak from next month, after the harvest of Kharif crops.

The demand-driven social security scheme guarantees 100 days of wage employment in a year to any rural household whose members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The monsoon months leading up to October are a relatively slack period for MGNREGA as agriculture ensures stable incomes, unless there is rural distress arising out of drought or other factors. The November-March period is when work demand under MGNREGA starts to peak.

The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) has asked the Finance Ministry for an additional Rs 17,600 crore, as part of the supplementary demand which will be placed before the Winter Session of Parliament in December. However, the money, if approved partly or entirely, will come only by early January next year.

Last financial year, of the additional Rs 15,000 crore that the MoRD sought in supplementary demands, the Finance Ministry cleared only Rs 9,000 crore.

According to ministry officials, the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have exhausted their budget for the entire year due to uptake in MGNREGA work owing to drought or delayed rainfall. “After releasing the dues to Madhya Pradesh this week and Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh next week, there will only be Rs 6,000 crore remaining in the budget. Several districts of MP have declared drought while parts of UP have faced issues post-September due to less rainfall and the state too is staring at a drought,” said an official.

Ministry officials, however, added that they have ample funds and the money demanded in the supplementary budget would be sufficient for the rest of the fiscal year.

Nikhil Dey from the Rajasthan-based Majdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan claimed that with the Finance Ministry not releasing enough funds, the MoRD had slowed down payments. “As per official data, Rs 3,000 crore worth of muster roll payments have been cleared by the states and sent to the PFMS (Public Fund Management System) but are pending response by the Centre. The lack of funds has a cascading effect and work slows down. There is already a crisis on the ground as people are demanding work but not getting it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the MoRD has accepted the recommendations of its internal Dr Nagesh Singh wage committee, which recently said MGNREGA wages do not need to be on par with minimum wages. The panel estimated a requirement of an additional Rs 4,500 crore in its budget in case both are brought on par.

The report is now awaiting the Finance Ministry’s approval, as the panel has recommended that the Consumer Price Index for Rural (CPI-R), which reflects the present consumption pattern, should be the basis for annual revision of MGNREGA wage rates. While this would not lead to any major change in individual labour wages, officials said, “Changing to CPI-R will still mean a requirement of Rs 600 crore more. The Finance Ministry needs to agree to it.”

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  1. S
    Sg
    Oct 19, 2017 at 1:17 pm
    It is simply foolish to believe that more than a billion hungry mouths can be fed by the tax payers money of a poor nation years after years! The only remady of the hunger and corrosponding demand is to reduce the size of the family perticularly the poor families those can't feed themselves. Use any means, even the if the coercive one. That will be much more human for them than to live in such a misery. Five star campaignings that is being played worldwide in engish media will not have any effects on these illiterate poors.
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    1. T
      Tathagata
      Oct 19, 2017 at 11:29 pm
      Good! First give the farmers their due. Have you grown anything ever in your life? Try and you will find out that it is more difficult and complex than Rocket science. Without farmers a Nation (and you) are nothing.
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      1. Nhk Nhk
        Oct 23, 2017 at 9:06 pm
        What you want to do with existing poor, poverty ridden and with no employment? Allow them to starve to death? Theory anybody can tell. There is no way we can allow people to die of hunger.
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      2. B
        Bharat Maa
        Oct 19, 2017 at 12:26 pm
        NRI PM should remain in India for the sake of poor farmers and poor common man so that there is more fund for them, as this goverment collected planty from petrolium tax.
        (3)(0)
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        1. S
          Sr
          Oct 19, 2017 at 12:17 pm
          Ask this gov't to stop their expensive traveling .And stop expense for their ( 365 days) lavis propaganda to win the election only.Also stop expense of false lavis media propaganda to fool the common people and stop further destruction of our country.
          (6)(0)
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          1. J
            Jim
            Oct 19, 2017 at 11:54 am
            MNREGA white elephant created by UPA
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            1. Nhk Nhk
              Oct 23, 2017 at 9:11 pm
              Then why it is not repealed by Modi's NDA government who criticises in 2014 and now increasing its budget? Needless to say, MNREGA allows poorest to live with some dignity.
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            2. S
              Solution
              Oct 19, 2017 at 11:29 am
              Mitron yahi to Ram Rajya hai, ek ridicule CM ke mutabik. Aisa hi governance chahiye tha na. Baat se to chaddiwale desh ko sone ki tarah chamka hi rahe hai. Ham to pahle bhi merte the ab bhi marenge, lekin tumhara aur is desh ka kya hoga. Jago voter jago.
              (3)(0)
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