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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

Govt claiming low demand for social schemes: Roy

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 04, 2013
First Published: 23:55 IST(4/3/2013) | Last Updated: 23:56 IST(4/3/2013)

The government is showing a reduced demand for work under social sector schemes to trim allocations, National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy charged on Monday.

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To give credence to her claim, she showed documents of Mahatma Gandhi Natuional Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) from Rajasthan, where a daily wage of Rs. 10 and Rs. 20 was paid to workers even though per day minimum wage in the state was Rs. 70. Besides, applications for jobs were not accepted, thereby lowering the demand for work.

The government had claimed less demand for work under the world’s biggest job employment scheme behind low allocations for MGNREGS. Finance minister P Chidambaram had cited spending low capability of the ministries for cutting funds during the budget.

Roy pointed out that the demand for work would be less if the application for work is not accepted by the state governments. She said the states are refusing to accept applications because they have to pay unemployment allowance if they are unable to provide work to job-seekers within a fortnight.

“The low wages dissuade people from seeking work under MGNREGA,” she said, adding that such manipulations at the ground level was being used to lower allocation for social security schemes.

Presenting a review of allocation for social security programmes, a group of social groups under the banner of Pension Parishad, said the allocation for the sector indicates the “unwillingness of the government to increase budgetary resources for these sectors”.

With regard to social security, the NGOs said, the only concrete measures in the budget 2013-14 pertained to Rashtriya Swasthiya Bima Yojana (RSBY), which would be extended to new categories. For other schemes, the increase in allocations would be very low to improve impact.

Roy also termed the recommendation of Mihir Shah panel on universalisation of old age pension by 2017 as unacceptable. The panel had submitted its report to rural development ministry in February 2013.


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