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Rural Development Ministry allays fear over budget cut in MGNREGA

New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) The Ministry of Rural Development said on Friday that the concern that lower allocation for the MGNREGA scheme for 2023-24 may affect the rural employment scheme is far from the truth.

“A concern has been raised over the Union Budget allocating Rs 60,000 crore for the MGNREGA scheme for 2023-24, which is 18 per cent lower than the Rs 73,000 crore budget estimates of 2022-23. This may affect the rural employment scheme of MGNREGA to achieve its objective of providing wage employment against the demand from the rural households. This is far from thr truth,” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

MGNREGA is a demand-driven scheme. Any household demanding employment shall be provided at least 100 days of unskilled manual work in a financial year in accordance with the scheme. During FY 2022-23, a total of 99.81 per cent rural households have been offered wage employment against their demand for work. If an applicant for employment under the scheme is not provided such employment within 15 days of receipt, he shall be entitled to a daily unemployment allowance, the ministry said.

“In FY 2019-20, the BE was Rs 60,000 crore which got revised to Rs 71,001 crore; for FY 2020-21, the BE was Rs 61,500 crore which increased in the RE to Rs 1,11,500 crore; and for FY 2021-22, the BE of Rs 73,000 crore was revised to Rs 98,000 crore. Therefore, it can be seen that the actual releases to the states have been much higher than that provided for at the BE level.

“Even during the current financial year 2022-23, the BE was Rs 73,000 crore, which was revised to Rs 89,400 crore. From the perusal of the above, it is inferred that the previous release has no bearing on the requirement for funds for next year,” said the ministry.

“Whenever additional fund is required, the Ministry of Finance is requested to provide the funds. The government of India is committed to release funds for wage and material payments for proper implementation of the scheme, as per the provisions of the act and guidelines applicable for Central government as well as the state governments,” it added.