Laboured wages – Any delay in funds to be paid to States for MGNREGS payments is unethical

Source: The post is based on the article “Laboured wages – Any delay in funds to be paid to States for MGNREGS payments is unethical” published in The Hindu on 29th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Relevance: About wage delay in MGNREGS.

News: Recently there has been a debate in Parliament regarding withholding funds for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in West Bengal.

Read here: MGNREGA
What are there is a wage delay in MGNREGS?

According to an NPO, almost ₹2,744 crore was still due to workers for work done since December 26, 2021. This is contradictory to Section 3 of the NREG Act. The wage delays have resulted in a drop in the number of households working under the scheme.

The wage delay happened due to a) A delay in funds disbursal from the centre to the States due to procedural delays and an overhauling of the Public Financial Management System of the Finance Ministry, and b) Non-compliance with the directives of the Central government by states and fund misuse.

Read more: MGNREGA: Issues and Significance – Explained, pointwise
What should be done to reduce wage delay in MGNREGS?

-The Union government should set aside adequate funds at the beginning of the financial year.

-The government should emphasise on reducing the misuse of funds by using technocratic approaches.

Note: Recently, the government has introduced digital capture of MGNREGS attendance mandatory at the work sites.

A scheme such as MGNREGS needs to evolve while keeping its core idea of a demand-driven work allocation intact. Treating it as a burden will only hurt genuine beneficiaries.

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