Government will reinforce MGNREGA scheme to cover ‘tremendous leak’ | India News – India Times

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NEW DELHI: The government is working to tighten the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) as “tremendous leakage” has been seen in the flagship rural jobs program over the past two years, a senior official said.
The Center has allocated Rs 73 000 crore for 2022-23, which is 25% lower than the Rs 98 000 crore provided in the revised estimate (RE) for the current fiscal year.
The assignment for the next fiscal year is the same as the budget estimate (BE) for the current fiscal year, which will end in March 2022.
The official said that in the last two years, the RE has been significantly higher than the BE and it has been noted that tremendous leaks are taking place and money is being taken by intermediaries to enroll beneficiary names in the scheme.
“Direct Benefit Transfer has managed to get the money directly to the person, but there are still human systems… There are intermediaries who are telling people that I will put your name on the MGNREGA master roll, but you will have to withdraw cash and give me later that you get the TOC to transfer. It’s happening in a big way,” the official told PTI.
“It is a recent phenomenon in the last two years. So much money has flown that now there is a temptation to grab the money by trickery. Ministry of Rural Development will tighten it,” he added.
Explaining the modus operandi, the official further said that the agreement between the beneficiary and the intermediaries is that, since the beneficiary gives a part to the intermediary, he would not even go to work and, therefore, no work is being done.
“The government has been very liberal in allocating MNREGA funds in the last two years. We put down Rs 1.11 lakh crore in 2020-21. It used to be Rs 35,000 crore in 2014-15,” the official said.
During the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, when the scheme ramped up and was awarded its highest budget of Rs 1.11 lakh crore, higher than the estimated budget of Rs 61,500 crore.
For the next fiscal year, the budget allocation is Rs 73 billion, while revised estimates for the current fiscal year put the expenditure at Rs 98 billion.
MGNREGA aims to improve the livelihood security of households in rural areas of the country by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a fiscal year to each household whose adult members volunteer to perform unskilled manual labor. .

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