Complicated process of funding behind MGNREGS ills: Ramesh

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh blamed a “complicated” process of fund allocation for many ills plaguing the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Job Guarantee Scheme, many of which have been pointed out by the CAG report tabled in parliament Tuesday.

“We have created a complicated system of funds release. I have sympathy with many states. Frankly, these are imposed on us by the finance ministry,” he told reporters here.

Ramesh said there was a need to “rethink” on these issues affecting the central government’s flagship job guarantee scheme. “I have taken this up on multiple occasions.”

The minister said the CAG audit which had been sought by the rural development ministry itself is only till 2011-12 and a lot of things have improved since March 2012.

For example, the CAG report says that the completion rate of projects was only 30 percent, but in the last one year, there has been a significant improvement and now the figure is 54 percent, he said.

Ramesh said the CAG has also said that women’s participation in the workforce is very less, but there has been a significant increase in this in the last one year and the figure is now 52 percent.

The states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have a very high rate of women’s participation, he added.

“I don’t have any problems with this report. We will take action on the discrepancies pointed out by the report,” he said, adding lot of things have happened after the period of time which the CAG has audited.

The minister said the CAG has also pointed out certain positive things like 90 percent beneficiaries are small or marginal farmers, 80 percent beneficiaries are Dalits, tribals and backward castes, and 63 percent say distress migration has reduced.

“For me, this is a survey which gives positive indicators also,” he said.

Ramesh said the two major negative things pointed out by the CAG are that 30 percent do not get payment on time and in some states the wages offered by the MGNREGS were lower than the minimum wages notified by the states.

The CAG report tabled in parliament Tuesday said that widespread instances of non-payment and delayed payment of wages under the MGNREGS have been noticed in 23 states.

It said that “the per rural household employment declined from 54 days in 2009-10 to 43 days in 2011-12. There was also a substantial decline in the proportion of works completed in 2011-12”.

It said that instances of works abandoned midway or not completed for a significant period were noticed.

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