The rural job scheme, MGNREGA, which was reportedly on the verge of shutting down in many states in the last quarter, saw an increase of 11% in the budgetary allocation for 2016-17 but critics said the finance minister should have set aside more.
“Rs 38,500 crore (sic) have been allocated for MGNREGA in 2016-17. If the total amount is spent, it will be (the) highest budget spend on MGNREGA,” Jaitely said.
The current allocation for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is Rs 3,900 crore higher than the allocation of Rs 34,600 crore in 2015-16. In its first year in office, 2014-15, the NDA government had allocated Rs 34,000 crore.
The Centre’s increased allocation to the MGNREGA comes amidst civil society activists slamming it for depriving the scheme of funds.
Nikhil De of People’s Action for Employment Guarantee, an NGO, however, said the allocation should have been Rs 50,000 crore, considering the demand for work and the level of expenditure last year. “The MGNREGA budget is still below the highest ever allocation of Rs 40,100 in 2010-11 (made by the UPA) and is insufficient for the programme today,” he said.
He added: “At a time when the NREGA is acknowledged as being vital for the survival of rural India, it is crucial that we watch the budget as per financial requirements and do not allow the government to mislead people through empty rhetoric and grand statements of sufficient funding.”