Hope govt will release Rs 5000 crore for MGNREGA: Birender Singh

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New Delhi | January 14, 2016 10:52 PM

Union Rural Development minister Birender Singh today expressed hope that the Government will sanction an additional fund of Rs 5,000 crore for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) scheme.

mgnregaBirender Singh said release of additional funds was a committment made during the Budget for 2015-16, and added that also there was a demand from some of the states for release of funds. (Reuters)

Union Rural Development minister Birender Singh today expressed hope that the Government will sanction an additional fund of Rs 5,000 crore for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) scheme.

Singh said release of additional funds was a committment made during the Budget for 2015-16, and added that also there was a demand from some of the states for release of funds.

He said he would meet Finance minister Arun Jaitley and press for his ministry’s demands.

Meanwhile, sources in the RD ministry said, at a recent meeting attended by officials including Joint Secretaries from both the ministries (Finance and Rural Development) had given an indication that it could accept the demand raised by Singh, who had written a letter to Jaitley in this regard on December 30 last year.

“I have already written to the Finance Minister regarding this. It is a committment made during the Budget for 2015-16. We are hopeful that they will do it. Offlate there is a demand also from some of the states,” Singh told reporters at the sidelines of a programme to sign a loan agreement with World Bank for the Neeranchal National Watershed Project.

The minister said he would meet Jaitley in the regards, in next few days. “Since the Budget preparatory exercises are on, the ministry has to take up some other issues with him as well.”

In the letter, Singh had reminded Jaitley that while a budget provision of Rs 34,699 crore was made for MGNREGA during 2015-16, the Finance Minister had also assured that additional funds of Rs 5,000 crore would be provided based on the actual untilisation of funds by the states/Union Territories.

The RD Minister said his ministry has already disbursed a sum of Rs 33,448 crore to states/Union Territories (UTs). Of these, states/UTs have already spent Rs 31,830 crore.

“We are receiving a number of requests from the states for release of funds to liquidate the pending liabilities and for the smooth implementation of MGNREGA during the fourth quarter of the current financial year.

“Since MGNREGA is a demand-driven wage employment programme and funds are required to be released to the states on demand being raised at field level, I request you to provide Rs 5,000 crore over and above the budget provision of Rs 34,699 crore,” Singh said in the letter.

He apprehended a “shortfall of Rs 5000 crore” in the scheme for this financial year otherwise.

Listing reasons of the requirement for additional expenditure in MGNREGA, the minister noted that this year there has been an increase of 5.5 percent of wages in MGNREGA besides additional employment of 50 days in the drought affected areas of six states far.

“Further proposals for provision of additional employment of 50 days in more districts from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are under consideration. This will entail additional expenditure towards payment of wages under MGNREGA.

“We have ensured a thrust on agriculture and irrigation sectors and on creation of durable assets. Given the farmer distress, the demand for wage employment has been high,” the minister said in the letter.

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