MORE MONEY EX­PECTED Funds Spent Well, MGNREGS Gets Fresh ₹ 48,000cr In­fu­sion

Min­istry hopes to make 75% pay­ments on time

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Ruchika.Chi­tra­van­shi @times­group.com

New Delhi: The gov­ern­ment’s flag­ship Ma­hatma Gandhi Na­tional Ru­ral Em­ploy­ment Guar­an­tee Scheme (MGNREGS) is likely to be­gin the next fis­cal with a clean slate, un­like a year ago when it faced huge ar­rears. The gov­ern­ment has al­lo­cated ₹ 48,000 crore to the scheme in this year’s Bud­get.

The ru­ral de­vel­op­ment min­istry is ex­pect­ing more funds at its dis­posal for the next fis­cal, hav­ing man­aged most of its dues for 2016-17.

In 2016-17, NREGS had been al­lo­cated ₹ 47,499 crore, which in­cluded ₹ 38,50 0 -crore al­lo­ca­tion in the Bud­get and the re­main­ing through sup­ple­men­tary budgets. The ru­ral de­vel­op­ment min­istry had to re­lease ₹ 13,000 crore to the states im­me­di­ately af­ter the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion for pay­ment of pend­ing dues. The Supreme Court had come down heav­ily on the Cen­tre for de­layed pay­ment to work­ers un­der the scheme last fis­cal, the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year of drought.

Fol­low­ing this, the ru­ral de­velop- ment­min­istry­had­pushed­for­na­tional elec­tronic fi­nance man­age­ment sys­tem for direct trans­fer of wages into the ben­e­fi­ciary ac­counts. As of now, only46%of­pay­mentshave­been­made within the stip­u­lated pe­riod of 15 days. “The num­ber has come down­be­cause of a sig­nif­i­cant sum that has been given to states in pend­ing wages for last year…in the next­fi­nan­cia­lyear, we should be able to make 75% pay­ments on time,” a se­nior of­fi­cial said. The min­istry is ex­pect­ing a further al­lo­ca­tion in the last sup­ple­men­tary bud­get later this month which will bring more clar­ity to its ar­rears po­si­tion for the next fis­cal. Jait­ley on Wed­nes­day an­nounced the con­struc­tion of 500,000 farm ponds in 2017-18. He said the gov­ern­ment has re­ori­ented NREGA to sup­port its re­solve to dou­ble farm­ers’ in­come. “MGNREGA should cre­ate pro­duc­tive as­sets to im­prove farm pro­duc­tiv­ity and in­comes. This sin­gle mea­sure will con­trib­ute greatly to drought-proof­ing of gram pan­chay­ats,” Jait­ley said.

The SC had come down on the Cen­tre for de­layed pay­ment to work­ers last fis­cal

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