Govt needs to plug loopholes, minimise irregularities, in implementation of NREGA in times when it i
- In Jharkhand, a social audit was done for the execution of the MGNREGA scheme, and various gaps were discovered.This calls into doubt the MGNREGA scheme's effectiveness.
What is MGNREGA
- MGNREGA is a government-run job-guarantee programme. The scheme's goal is to provide 100 days of work to adult members of each rural household willing to do unskilled manual labour every fiscal year.
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was enacted to provide lean-season employment to those who were looking for it, as well as to provide basic infrastructure to help these areas' livelihoods and agriculture thrive.
What is the importance of MGNREGA?
- MGNREGA played a crucial role in easing economic hardship as migration grew and non-farm employment prospects decreased. The scheme employed 11.19 core individuals in 2020–21, compared to 7.88 crore in 2019–20.
- Additional budget allocations have been established in addition to the budget allocation to accommodate the increased demand 9.52 crore people have profited from it in the current fiscal year.
- In 2020–21, the government has boosted its scheme budget to 1.1 lakh crore. As a result, variations in MGNREGA implementation, such as in Jharkhand, are grounds for concern.
Irregularities found in the Jharkhand audit
- Several instances of anomalies have been revealed by the Jharkhand Rural Development Department's social audit unit (SAU). Consider the following scenario:
- Workers were recorded in the documents, but they were not present at the job sites.
- Beneficiaries had made arrangements with contractors to have their names appear on muster rolls in exchange for a cut.
- Payment delays, no attendance documented in master rules, no material delivery despite payments, wage payment without work, and work that was not located on the ground.
Issues within MGNREGA
- Inadequate Financing: A Shortfall Phenomenon occurs practically every fiscal year. For example, in 2021, there will be a funding shortage in 24 states and UTs.
- The demand-supply cycle of employment is disrupted by a lack of cash. Due to a lack of cash, demand for work is suppressed, and post-covid rural economic recovery is hampered.
- Almost every state's requirement for wage release within 15 days is a complete failure. Furthermore, there is no legislative guarantee recompense for any payment delays.
- Inefficiencies and an unholy relationship between PRI and officials obstruct the correct implementation of schemes, such as Job Card Duplication.
- In the rural economy, a phenomenon of low quality and high inefficiency in work leads to poor asset generation.
- Corrupt practises such as ill-distribution of money to workers, the manufacture of phoney bills, payment delays, and fund scamming has long been a part of NREGA, resulting in the scheme's disastrous failure and government censure.
- MNREGA may have flaws, but the benefits and opportunities provided by the programme cannot be overlooked.
- That is the primary reason why, despite its failure, the NDA administration decided to continue sponsoring the scheme. The 2018 budget also increased funds for NREGA, demonstrating the government's commitment to the rural development strategy.
- The government expects them to improve on the scheme's flaws after conducting a thorough analysis based on the scheme's performance over the years.
- Social auditing makes performance more accountable, especially to immediate stakeholders.
- Funds must be disbursed on time, and any delays must be compensated.
- Regular data gathering and evidence-based policy decisions are needed to overcome inefficiencies such as card duplication and unpaid employment.
- For the generation of new assets, ICT tools such as GIS, satellite images, geo-tagging, and so on are used.
- Many states recommend combining minimum wage with CPI-rural for improved inflation targeting.
- This scheme will not only be helpful for employment in rural regions but also for asset creation, which has been its major shortcoming, with appropriate planning, good coordination by government engineers, and tight monitoring of finances.