Government awaits Labour Ministry’s decision on modifying consumer price indices

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New Delhi | Published: November 22, 2019 3:51:58 PM

Replying to supplementary questions during Question Hour in the Upper House on linking of wages of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to inflation, Minister of Rural Development Narendra Singh Tomar said every year in April, new wage rates under the scheme are announced.

MGNREGA, inflation, consumer price index, CPI inflation, MGNREGA inflation, CPI-ALTomar said MGNREGA has its own rules and norms and wages can only be fixed as per its own norms and not according as per minimum wages of states.

The government is awaiting the Labour ministry’s decision on modifying consumer price indices before linking MGNREGA wages to inflation, Rajya Sabha was informed on Friday. Replying to supplementary questions during Question Hour in the Upper House on linking of wages of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to inflation, Minister of Rural Development Narendra Singh Tomar said every year in April, new wage rates under the scheme are announced.

In the written reply, the minister stated that to compensate the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA workers, the Ministry of Rural Development revises the unskilled wage rate based on Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour (CPI-AL) every year for all States/UTs. “A committee was constituted to study inter-alia the appropriate index for revising Mahatma Gandhi NREGA wages. The Committee recommended using Consumer Price Index-Rural instead of the existing Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour (CPI-AL) for revising Mahatma Gandhi NREGA wage every year.

“The Committee also recommended use of annual average instead of the existing practice of using December month index only. The recommendations of the Committee are under examination in consultation with other Ministries including the Ministry of Finance,” the minister said in written reply. On a supplementary question regarding linking of MGNREGA workers to social security schemes like Employee Provident Fund and Pension Fund, Tomar said from a social security standpoint there are schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, PM Suraksha Bima Yojana, and MGNREGA workers are also covered for accidents taking place while on duty.

Replying to another supplementary on whether the government will consider payment be made to states as per minimum wages, Tomar said MGNREGA has its own rules and norms and wages can only be fixed as per its own norms and not according as per minimum wages of states. “All states have different prevailing situations therefore minimum wages vary accordingly. In would like to point out that when we determine MNREGA wages according to CPI that is different,” the minister observed.

“But if we allow it to be based only on a state’s minimum wages, certainly this won’t be possible at present because the ordinance itself has a provision that MNREGA wages should be separately notified. There is a procedure in place according to old rules so they are being followed accordingly,” he said. On a supplementary question on when outstanding dues to Andhra Pradesh will be released, Tomar gave an assurance that no pendency of dues relating to Andhra Pradesh would remain with his ministry.

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