While the debate on MGNREGA continues, with the BJP first bashing and then endorsing the Congress party’s flagship scheme, the data suggests it has limited use. FE columnist Surjit Bhalla (Read also) shows 48% of workdays created are fictitious and 58% of payments go to the non-poor. Swaminathan Aiyar in The Times of India uses data from NC Saxena in Inclusion (http://goo.gl/cmfVZA and http://goo.gl/0UXV8c respectively) to show the rich states benefit more from MGNREGA while the poor get more from the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMSGY), especially on a per capita poor basis.
Given the MGNREGA leakages versus the rigorous evaluation of PMGSY, the latter seems by far the better anti-poverty scheme. Sadly, poverty data does not capture the period in which PMGSY expenditure climbed rapidly.