The National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA) scheme was given an additional ₹6,084 crore to tide over the next three months as it had exhausted 99% of its annual allocation three months ahead of time. This would increase the total NREGA budget for the 2018-19 to ₹61,084. However, now it has come to light the government hasn’t released the additional funds yet and there is a deficit.
According to the official NREGA website (nrega.nic.in), the total central release so far is only ₹53,353 cr. Including the state share, the total availability of funds is ₹59,709 crore, whereas the total expenditure so far is ₹63,537 crore. Thus, there is a deficit of ₹3,828 crore, say the activists of NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NMS).
On January 25, 2019, the Raghubar Das-led Jharkhand Government had written to the Ministry to request for additional funds to clear a liability of ₹39 cr. The letter also mentions that “no funds have been released to Ne-FMS account for last two days (January 24, 25, 2019)”. This also exposes the claims of the Ministry that the Ne-FMS mechanism has streamlined the fund flow to the states, states NMS. Ne-FMS is the national electronic fund management system, which was launched by the Central government in 2016 for direct and faster release of wages under NREGA.
The financial statement of the NREGA scheme shows that as on January 30, 19 states and Union Territories were in the red, with liabilities as high as ₹1,605 crore in Andhra Pradesh and ₹1,342 crore in West Bengal. Nationally, the scheme shows a negative net balance of ₹4,101 crore.
“This also exposes the claims of the Ministry that the Ne-FMS mechanism has streamlined the fund flow to the states,” points out a release from the organisation.
According to the statement, 81% of the Fund Transfer Orders (FTOs) of January 2019 and 43% of FTOs of February 2018 (and some FTOs of previous months) remain unprocessed by the Ministry of Rural Development. Additionally, in violation of Supreme Court orders, the NREGA workers will not receive compensation for the delays in wage payments caused due to the delays in processing of the FTOs.