Once Derided by Modi, Boost to MGNREGS Shows it's One of Rural India's Few Safety Nets -Kabir Agarwal

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published Published on May 18, 2020   modified Modified on May 19, 2020


The increased allocation is welcome, but experts say the government should also work to solve pending liability issues and other techno-bureaucratic problems that hold back its effectiveness.

New Delhi: On Sunday, while announcing the fifth and final tranche of the Centre’s COVID-19 economic relief package, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government will be allocating an additional Rs 40,000 crore under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

“It will help generate nearly 300 crore person days in total addressing need for more work including returning migrant workers in the monsoon season as well,” Sitharaman said.

Now, the scheme will have an allocation of a little over Rs 1 lakh crore for 2020-21 – an increase of over 60% compared to the Rs 61,500 crore budgeted for FY’21 earlier this year.

While this boost is welcome, it must be seen in the light of two different contexts. Firstly, the Rs 61,500 crore budgeted this year was a clear underestimate – in FY’20, actual spending for the rural work programme was Rs 71,000 crore. Secondly, pending liabilities continue to plague the scheme. Even from this higher allocation of Rs 1,01,500 crore, almost  Rs 11,000 crore will  have to be be used to clear dues of last year.

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TheWire.in, 18 May, 2020, https://thewire.in/labour/narendra-modi-mgnregs-boost-covid-19-package

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