Shore up the lifeline: On rural jobs scheme

Fresh funds must close the gap between demand and supply for MGNREGS work

The budgeting for the scheme by simply fixing a nominal increase from the original Budget estimate in previous years is a flawed method. If anything, the outlay must be tied to revised/actual estimate of expenditure for the scheme each year — in the case of 2021-22, the total allocations were ₹73,000 crore, much lower than the ₹1,11,500 crore as revised estimates in expenditure in 2020-21. Nearly a quarter of the allocation for the current financial year was also tied to meeting the liabilities from previous years. Clearly, the scheme suffers from a budgeting problem that has hampered its proper implementation despite its popularity, and this needs to be rectified. The Union Government has done the right thing in continuing till March 2022, its free foodgrain ration scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, that was launched as part of the COVID-19 relief packages — the fourth such extension. This was an acknowledgment of the need for the scheme to support poor families in a recovering economy. Considering that the MGNREGS acts as a robust lifeline as well, it will be prudent for the Government to make up the shortfalls in the allocations quickly.

Source: Read Full Article