Central govt. is planning to make revision in wages under its flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). There is a long time demand to align MGNREGA Wages per Day under National Rural Jobs Scheme (NREGA) to minimum wages of individual states. Last time, the alignment of 2 wages was done in the FY 2009. But after that, divergence occurs because several states have arbitrarily increased their minimum wages.
For unskilled workers, MGNREGA Wages per Day ranges from Rs. 168 in Bihar and Jharkhand to Rs. 281 in Haryana. However, MGNREGA minimum wages (w.e.f April 2018) in Bihar is Rs. 237, Jharkhand is Rs. 210 and Haryana is Rs. 326.
Govt. will form a high level committee comprising of Chief Ministers headed by Shivraj Singh Chauhan of MP. This committee will deliberate hike in MGNREGA wage rate and its financial implications on Central government.
Central Govt. to Revise MGNREGA Wages per Day
The Revision in MGNREGA Wages per Day is a critical issue and needs to be addressed. Issue of lower MGNREGA wage rate has came up at regional conferences and is one of the top most issue raised in the meeting. NITI Aayog will put forward this issue to a newly formed high-level committee (group). This group will then lay out roadmap for convergence of MGNREGA Scheme and Agriculture.
Previously in the last 4 years, govt. has setup 2 committees on NREGA wages. First was under Prof. Mahendra Dev in 2013 and Second was under Nagesh Singh in 2016. The recommendations of both committees were as follows:-
— Dev Committee – MGNREGA Wage Rate should be Minimum wage to be fixed by respective state or current wage as per Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL), whichever is higher.
— Singh Committee – This committee suggests that minimum wage for agricultural labour and wages notified for workers under MGNREGS should be linked. However, it does not recommend any link with the minimum wages set by the states.
Alignment of 2 wages will cost around Rs. 4,500 crore to the government. Moreover, shifting of Index of calculation from CPI-Agriculture to CPI Rural will cost an additional burden of Rs. 2500 crore on central government. Central govt. has allocated Rs. 55,000 crore for NREGA Scheme for FY 2018-19.
MGNREGA Scheme was launched in 2006 by Manmohan Singh govt. in the Centre. This has already generated 2637 crore person days with a total expense of Rs. 4,76,718.
Ministry of Rural Development executes this scheme under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. MGNREGA aims to provides minimum 100 days of employment out of 365 days in a single year to every rural household who is willing to do unskilled manual work.