Editorial with Sujit Nair: MGNREGA Runs Out Of Funds | Nirmala Sitharaman | PM Modi | BJP Congress

5 months ago
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In this editorial segment, Mr. Sujit Nair discusses the current status of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and its financial challenges. As of six months into the fiscal year, the MGNREGS, a prominent rural employment initiative, has exhausted its funds. According to data released by the Ministry on its official website, there is a deficit of ₹6,146.93 crore in the scheme's finances.

For the fiscal year 2023-24, an allocation of ₹60,000 crore was made for the MGNREGS, which is 18% lower than the budget estimates of ₹73,000 crore and 33% lower than the revised estimates of ₹89,000 crore for the previous fiscal year, 2022-23.

Informed sources have revealed that on September 15, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) approached the Finance Ministry requesting a supplementary budget of ₹23,000 crore. However, there has been no response from the Finance Ministry regarding this proposal.

In response to criticism from Opposition parties regarding budget cuts, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized that the MGNREGS operates on a demand-driven basis, and additional funds will be provided whenever there is a need.

In a statement released on a Thursday, the MoRD reiterated this point, highlighting that the MGNREGS is a demand-driven wage employment program. It explained that fund allocation to states and union territories is an ongoing process, considering factors such as the demand for work, labor budget, opening balance, pending liabilities from the previous year, and overall program performance. The Ministry further stated that it requests additional funds for the MGNREGS as needed to meet the ground-level demand for employment.

According to Ministry data as of October 4, out of the ₹60,000 crore sanctioned, ₹56,105.69 crore (93.5% of the funds) had been disbursed to the states. However, the Ministry's statistical report on its website indicates a deficit of ₹6,146 crore. Despite attempts to seek clarification by sending questions to Rural Development Secretary Shailesh Kumar Singh, there has been no response.

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