A Triple Blow to Job Guarantee Scheme

//A Triple Blow to Job Guarantee Scheme

A Triple Blow to Job Guarantee Scheme

For the whole country, the total amount of wages pending under MGNREGA scheme stood at around Rs 11,000 crores for 2016-17. This is almost one-fifth of the budget announced for MGNREGA for 2018-19.

Progressive aspects of MGNREGA

  • It stands out for its worker-centric legislation and emphasis on transparency and accountability through several mechanisms.
  • Several progressive steps such as real-time management information system has been put in place to ensure transparency in operations.

Key provisions of MGNREGA

  • It is meant to be a demand drive project as the government is mandated to provide work within 15 days of a worker registering for it. Otherwise, he/she is entitled to an unemployment allowance.
  • The worker is entitled to receive wages within 15 days of completion of work, failing which he/she is entitled to a delay compensation of 0.05% per day of the wages earned.
  • However, both of these above provisions have been violated in routine.

Why MGNREGA has stumbled down successively over the years?

  • Firstly, the budget allocation over the years has been insufficient to meet the desired objectives of the social sector scheme. In fact, the real budget for 2018-19 is much lower than that of 2010-11 if we account for inflation.
  • Secondly, various curtailments under various heads in the already insufficiently allocated budget makes it difficult to operate the scheme for social and economic empowerment of people. Management Information System (MIS) has been adopted which prohibits the States to generate more employment above the limits set by agreed to labour budgets (submitted to the Centre every December). Hence, critics argue that MIS has been used as a means to curb work demand. Due to the ongoing PIL (Swaraj Abhiyan v/s the Union of India), the Government was forced to rescind the guidelines to enable the use of MIS to constrict demand for work.
  • Thirdly, delay in payments of wages is not catering to the provision of interest payment to the workers. Only 21 percent of the payments in 2016-17 and 32 percent of wages in the first two quarters of 2017-18 were made on time. The Centre has absolved itself of any responsibility of any delay in the release of wage payments which violates the second key aspect of the Act, as discussed above.
  • Last, but not the least, stagnation in MGNREGA wages is hitting the workers hard. The delinking of MGNREGA wage rates from the Minimum Wages Act (MWA), 1948 has contributed to this stagnation. As primary beneficiaries of this Act are women, Dalits and Adivasis, they become more vulnerable as they are pushed into hazardous employment opportunities because of unaffordable earnings through MGNREGA.

Conclusion

As discussed above, the MGNREGA faces a triple whammy of lack of sufficient funds, payment delays and abysmal wages. It not only reflects a legal crisis but a moral one too where the fight is not only for a living but for subsistence now.

Source – The Hindu

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By | 2018-05-19T10:26:42+00:00 May 19th, 2018|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

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