Apparently, the government has turned more economical on MG-NREGS spend this time around, while it was much more liberal in spending on the scheme in May-June last year following the April lock-down which hit people's livelihood hard.
Just 99.6 crore person days (daily wage work) were created in April-June this year under the rural employment guarantee scheme (MG-NREGS), down 26% from the year-ago period, according to official data. Apparently, the government has turned more economical on MG-NREGS spend this time around, while it was much more liberal in spending on the scheme in May-June last year following the April lock-down which hit people’s livelihood hard.
There was a drop in the people who turned up for the work offered in April-June this year – this number was 73% in the quarter, against about 85% in FY20 and FY21. The spread of Covid-19 in rural areas may be the reason for this; but it is also possible that a section of job seekers is not aware of the ‘work offers’ shown in the official data.
Person days generated under MG-NREGS fell a sharp 56% on year to 28.3 crore in June 2021. Around 57 crore person days of work was generated in May last year which rose further to 64 crore in June 2020 from an average of 22.1 crore/month in 2019-20. In May this year, 37.2 crore person days were generated, the number was 34 crore in April.
Though the supply of work under the scheme declined since the spurt seen in the May-July period last year, a higher level of MG-NREGS work was maintained throughout 2020-21, resulting in the spike in the budget outlay for the scheme to Rs 1.11 lakh crore from Rs 61,500 crore originally estimated. The Budget outlay for the scheme in 2021-22 is Rs 73,000 crore.
Around 13.23 crore daily work were demanded under the scheme in April-June this year compared with 13.77 crore in the same period last year. Clearly, the demand decline, just around 4%, is not as sharp as the supply decline.