75% MGNREGA workers paid on time since April

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court order seems to have helped speed up payments to workers under the central government’s flagship rural jobs scheme. Since April, the government has paid three-fourths of workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) within 15 days of work, against 43% workers in 2017-18 and just 17% in the year before.

The Centre cited these figures at a review meeting on June 27, after the Supreme Court in an order on May 18 asked the central as well as state governments to prepare an “urgent time-bound mandatory programme” for payment of wages and compensation to MGNREGA workers. Besides, the Centre shared a mechanism for paying ‘delay compensation’ if any of its stakeholders delays the payment.

In a presentation made to officers from states, a copy of which was seen by ET, the Centre said that timely payments to workers under ‘stage-2’, which ends with crediting of payments in the beneficiaries’ bank accounts, stood at 72.81% in this financial year. Eight states were identified by the centre including Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan, for continuing delays “despite ample funds”. Only 51% of workers in Gujarat are getting paid within the mandated 15 days in the ongoing financial year while just 32% workers in Rajasthan are getting payments on time.

In the presentation, the Centre said that delay compensation should be calculated for the duration of delay from the time a master roll is filled for payment in the state under stage-1 to payment being credited in to the account under stage-2.

Stage-1 involves five steps on the part of the states to fill a master roll, generate an electronic fund transfer order (FTO), obtain two electronic signatures and push an e-pay order onto MGNREGA’s server.

This happened on time in 94% cases in 2018-19 and 86% cases in 2017-18. The problem is in stage-2, where the Union rural development ministry, Public Financial Management System

payment agency (National Payment Corporation of India) and banks have to ensure payment is credited into the beneficiaries’ accounts.

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