MORE MONEY EXPECTED Funds Spent Well, MGNREGS Gets Fresh ₹ 48,000cr Infusion
Ministry hopes to make 75% payments on time
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