Parliamentary panel bats for enhanced budgetary allocation under MGNREGA


The parliamentary standing committee on labour has recommended the government to contemplate enhancing the budgetary allocations under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act while increasing the work allocation to 200 days as against 100 days and linking the benefits to individuals instead of family or households.

Further, the committee has suggested universal health care for all should be made a legal obligation of the government even as it needs to make the growth process more employment inclusive.

“With a view to mitigating the immediate sufferings of the rural populace, especially the migrant labours, the government should consider increasing the work allocation under the scheme to at least 200 days per year so as to effectively cater to the growing job demands,” the Bhartruhari Mahtab led standing committee on labour said in its report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

Government has earmarked Rs 73,000 crores for Mgnrega compared to the original allocation of Rs 61,500 crores for 2020-21. This is however, 34.5% lower than the revised estimate of Rs. 1,11,500 crore for 2021-21 after the government enhanced the allocation for 2020-21 by additional Rs 40,000 crore to cater to the surge in work demand by migrant workers.

According to the committee, out of the estimated 465 million informal workers in the country the ones who have been hit the most due to Covid-19 pandemic include the migrants, agriculture workers, casual and contract labours, building and construction workers, domestic workers, gig or platform workers and self-employed workers like plumbers, carpenters, painters, street vendors etc.

“Formalising the unorganised sector, increasing the productivity, strengthening and upgrading the existing livelihoods and creating new opportunities should remain the major thrust areas to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on unemployment and joblessness,” it said, adding the government should explore ways and means to put money in the bank accounts of the informal workers during adverse conditions like Covid-19.

The committee is of the view that the Covid-19 crisis in India has come in the backdrop of pre-existing high and rising unemployment. Even workers in the organised sector have also borne the brunt of job and livelihood losses due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“Therefore, a comprehensive plan and roadmap is required to address the deteriorating condition of employment much aggravated by the pandemic, and widening disparities in the job market in the organised sector,” it said.

“Offering another round of income support to the poor to compensate for loss of jobs or employment incurred due to the two lockdowns imposed would go a long way in mitigating their woes,” it said, adding that in the short-term it is imperative to expand the social assistance and public welfare programmes.

The committee further said the government will have to embark upon long term radical reorientation of the growth strategy to make the growth process more employment intensive and inclusive by focussing on industries and activities that are critical for employment generation and job creation.

“Developing clusters of growth, supporting formalisation of the workplace, promoting vocational and skill training, scaling of apprenticeship programmes, fostering entrepreneurship, innovation and start ups etc. need focussed attention of the government to counter rising unemployment and job losses and to ensure sustained economic revival,” it added.

Further, fund allocation to ramp up health infrastructure should be increased and universal health care for all should be made a legal obligation of the government.





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