India’s Union rural development ministry has formed a panel to revamp its only job guarantee scheme in the hope of directing more work to the country’s poorer regions, a senior government official said.
More About This Development:
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, or MNREGA, was in high demand in the India’s rural areas as they emerged from the pandemic amid soaring inflation and limited non-farm job opportunities.
Residents of relatively affluent states, however, may have fared better in securing work under the key anti-poverty job program, triggering calls for changes to the scheme.
What Has Been Said:
“The panel will recommend institutional mechanisms, including governance and administrative structures, for more effective utilization of funds, especially to address poverty,” the official said. The panel, which is expected to submit its report by January, will examine expenditure trends across various states and identify reasons for variations, the official added.
Disparity Within The States:
The spending of states such as Bihar and Odisha, for instance, under the jobs scheme lags those of states such as Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, which have a higher per-capita income, government data shows.
About The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme(MGNREGA):
The MNREGA jobs programme, introduced more than 15 years ago, allows citizens to enrol for work such as building roads, digging wells or creating other rural infrastructure, and receive a minimum wage for 100 days each year.
The government’s expenditure on job guarantees is among the largest social sector spends it budgets for. New Delhi has earmarked 730 billion Indian rupees ($8.94 billion) towards the jobs scheme for fiscal 2022-23, less than the record allocation of 1.1 trillion rupees in 2020-2021.
However, the allocation could be increased in the final quarter of this fiscal. The government may raise rural spending to 2 trillion rupees next fiscal year.
The revaluation of the scheme comes as rural unemployment in India has remained above 7% for most of the current fiscal year, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).