Wages in job scheme only on work not attendance: Govt

The Centre has finally woken up to stop doling out money under its flagship rural job scheme and made it mandatory for state governments to pay wages only on the basis of measurement of works and not merely on the attendance of the beneficiaries.

Seven years after the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance enacted the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and launched the programme, Minister of Rural Development, Jairam Ramesh, on Monday announced certain major changes in the Schedule I and Schedule II of the scheme. One of the changes he announced would make it mandatory for state governments to pay wages “exclusively on the basis of measurement of work done and not on the basis of attendance”.

Ramesh said that governments in several states had been paying wages merely on the basis of attendance of the beneficiaries, and not on measurement of works.

“But the MGNREGS is a not a dole programme, it is a programme to generate employment. So the wages should be paid only on measurement of works,” he told journalists.

According to the Paragraph 16 of the modified Schedule I of the MGNREGS, payment should be made only on the basis of the measurements taken at the worksite by the authorized personnel within three days of closure of the muster roll.

“The state government shall ensure that adequate technical personnel are deployed to complete this work within the stipulated period. Suitable persons from the families of the workers may be trained/ skilled and deployed as barefoot engineers with appropriate delegation of technical powers and paid wages as skilled workers,” it read.

The government also made necessary changes to ensure that at least one-third of the six per cent allocation on administrative expenses permissible under the MGNREGS would be earmarked for expenditure at the gram panchayet level in order to strengthen the local body.

The 2005 MGNREGA sought to legally guarantee at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every rural household, which has adult members willing to do unskilled manual work.

The programme provided job to more than 4.8 crore rural households in 2012-13, generating more than 213 crore person-days of employment at a total expenditure of more than Rs 39,000 crore.  The critics, however, have been alleging that the MGNREGS has failed to create durable assets and has rather lessened the workforce available for agriculture and other sectors.

With just a few months to go before the elections, the MoRD, however, on Monday expanded the scope of the scheme, adding to the list of permissible works under the MGNREGS construction of houses for poor in convergence with the Indira Awas Yojana or any other state rural housing scheme.

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