Unpaid MGNREGA wages to rural workers reach 99% from less than 1% in Sept 2017, are rising ever since: Official data

By Our Representative
In a major revelation, the well-known rural jobs advocacy group fighting for the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2006,the MGNREGA Sangharsh Morcha, has said that pendency in the payment of MGNREGA wages has reached a whopping 99.19% under the rural guarantee scheme, have remained "unpaid" in April 2018.
In fact, the Government of India figures released by the advocacy group suggest that the pendency of unpaid wages have been going up every month. Thus, the pendency was less than 1% in September 2017 (0.91%), in October 2017 it was 12.26%, reaching 17.79% in November 2017, 19.1% in December 2017, 20.7% in January 2018, shooting up to 63.56% in February 2018, and 85.57% in March 2018.
According to the Sangharsh Morcha, "Stagnant wage rates are not the only rude shock that workers of the MGNREGA received this month. Most of the them also remain unpaid for the work done by them in the past few months."
Pointing out that 99% of the Fund Transfer Orders (FTOs) for MGNREGA wage payments sent to the Public Finance Management (PFMS) in April 2018 remain unprocessed, the Sangharsh Morcha says, "The bulk of FTOs of the last two months are also yet to be processed –- 86 per cent of the FTOs of March and 64 per cent of the FTOs of February."
It says, "In January 2016, the Central government introduced the National Electronic Fund Management System (NEFMS), allegedly to streamline the process of MGNREGA wage payments. However, this system has only tightened the Ministry’s leash over MGNREGA funds."
"Now it routinely withholds the processing of FTOs. Also, in NEFMS states are no longer able to make payments to workers from their revolving funds to tide over delays in release of funds by the Ministry", it alleges.
Last year, the Ministry froze processing of FTOs worth over Rs 3,000 crore due to lack of MGNREGA funds, the Sangharsh Morcha estimates. "It may be recalled that in August 2017, the Ministry of Rural Development demanded a supplementary MGNREGA budget of Rs 17,000 crore, but the Ministry of Finance approved only Rs 7,000, that too in January 2018", it adds.
According to the Sanghash Morcha, "As inadequate funds should not be a problem at the beginning of a financial year, the reason for the current non-processing of FTOs is not clear."
It underlines, "The situation of long and unpredictable delays in MGNREGA wage payments continues despite the ongoing public interest litigation filed by Swaraj Abhiyan in which the Supreme Court has instructed the government to ensure that workers are paid within 15 days of doing work. Moreover, workers are not compensated for the wage delays that take place after the generation of FTOs."
"In a damning document, the Ministry of Finance accepts the partial payment of compensation", the Sangharsh Morcha says, adding, "It goes on to state that payment of compensation for the entire duration of delay will be a heavy financial burden on the government."
"This exposes the deliberate underfunding of the employment guarantee programme. As the Modi government failed to curtail MGNREGA through overt measures such as restricting the programme to the poorest districts or reducing the wage -– material ratio, it has resorted to undermining the Act by starving it of funds", it says.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Modi has threatened to discontinue MNREGA. He is doing it now : choking it