• Taking note of the drastic cut in allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (MGNREGS) in the Union Budget, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development, questioned the government’s rationale behind the reduction in the allocation for the scheme considering the key role it plays for the distressed populace of the country.
  • The Budget Estimate for the MGNREGS was reduced by ₹9,400 crore for the 2023­0-24 fiscal year compared with the Revised Estimate of 2022­-23. 
  • The importance of the scheme is highlighted by the fact that during the pandemic, the government had to revise the budget from ₹61,500 crore initially allotted in 2020-­21 to ₹1,11,500 crore and similarly in 2021-­22, it was hiked from ₹73,000 crore to ₹99,117.53 crore. 
  • The panel also expressed distress over the delay in wage payments and material fund release to the State governments. 
  • It further flagged a chronic problem of nonadherence to the provision of delay compensation, which several activists and organisations working in the field have repeatedly pointed out.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) says that wages have to paid within 15 days of the work and in case of any delay, the workers must be paid due compensation.
  • Reacting to complaints from the ground against digital capturing of attendance of the workers through the National Mobile Monitoring System, a mobile based application, the committee said that while it understood the reason for bringing in this innovation, the government should also be aware of the problems faced by the workers.  e