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18/05/2013 12:00am

Alleged corruption casts shadow over MGNREGA

image Alleged corruption casts shadow over MGNREGA
New Delhi, May 7 (KNN)  Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the government’s most ambitious job guarantee scheme which provides employment to people in rural India has drawn criticism owing to corruption and other factors.

“The program has received considerable media attention because of alleged corruption, leakage, inadequate implementation, and the like.  But few studies have attempted to assess its impact on rural households, rural labour markets, and productivity in a systematic way,” said World Bank Development Report 2013 on jobs.

The criticism is also attributed to findings that show that participation rates in areas where the program is most needed are not the highest.

Further, household surveys show evidence of rationing and unmet demand, limiting the poverty alleviation impact of what is considered the biggest public works program of the world.

Yet, despite the rationing, the program is reaching poor people and attracting women and disadvantaged castes into the workforce, it said. 

The report also states that one study in the state of Andhra Pradesh suggests the program increases expenditure on food and non-food goods. 

In addition, “Critics argue that MGNREGA may be affecting the functioning of rural labour markets. By setting the wage paid by the program at roughly Rs 100 (USD1.80) a day, it may help to enforce a sort of minimum wage for all casual rural work. If that is above the normal wage offered, the program may be altering the supply of casual labour and crowding out private employers. It may also be constraining the process of labour reallocation out of agriculture and into more productive sectors,” the report added.

That said, addressing leakage and transparency are among the challenges that face the MGNREGA program which the government has attempted to address through the adoption of biometric-unique identification cards.

Other challenges, according to the report include improving the quality and relevance of the communal assets to generate wider and long-term effects and ensuring that demand for work is met, and that wages are paid fully and on time. 

Also, the program should accommodate those whose physical conditions do not allow them to perform hard manual work, considering that the program’s objective is to uplift the poor.

Launched in 2006, the program guarantees jobs to all districts with rural populations, providing wage employment, purchasing power, community assets and so on.  (KNN)
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