Naveen seeks funds from Centre to pay wages to MGNREGA workers

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today sought the release of Rs 676.57 crore from the Centre to meet an immediate requirement of funds to pay workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

While an amount of Rs 2,290.19 crore was to be released to the state by December-end, the Centre had disbursed Rs 1,613.62 crore till date, Patnaik said in a letter to Union Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, pointing out that there was a shortfall of Rs 676.57 crore.

The labour budget of the state under the MGNREGA Scheme (MGNREGS) for 2017-18 agreed to by the Union Rural Development Ministry (MoRD) is 900 lakh person days with a financial implication of Rs 2,798.37 crore, he said.

"Up to December 2017, the approved labour budget is 678.13 lakh person days for Rs 2,108.51 crore. Against this, the Central share is Rs 1,909.60 crore. Besides, there was a committed liability of Rs 380.59 crore pertaining to the financial year 2016-17," the chief minister said.

In all, an amount of Rs 2,290.19 crore had to be released by the Centre to the state government by the end of December, 2017, Patnaik said.

He added that FTOs (fund transfer orders) of Rs 130.53 crore were pending with Ne-FMS (national electronic fund management system) to be credited to the accounts of MGNREGS workers, he said.

Patnaik further said the state government had declared 5,958 villages under 1,097 gram panchayats of 70 blocks in 15 districts as drought affected.

"Yet, labourers are not evincing an interest in availing MGNREGS work due to the non-receipt of wages on time, which may cause distress migration. On its part, the state government has ensured that all FTOs are generated on time without any delay," the chief minister said.

The state government, he said, has created a corpus of Rs 300 crore to meet any eventuality caused by the non- availability of funds under Ne-FMS, so that the wage earners were paid within the stipulated time period.

"Since MoRD has not finalised the modalities for release of recoupment of the corpus fund, the state is not able to utilise this fund to meet the exigency," he said.

Stating that a request to allow the state to utilise the corpus fund had been sent to the ministry of Rural Development, Patnaik said the modalities for release and recouping the fund may be finalised and communicated to the state at the earliest to ensure the timely payment of wages.

Alternatively, he suggested that Odisha be allowed to revert to the electronic fund management system (e-FMS) from Ne-FMS so that the state government could pay wages utilising the corpus fund as and when required.

"I, therefore, solicit your intervention for the release of Rs 676.57 crore to meet the immediate requirement of funds till December 2017 or allow us to disburse wage to MGNREGA workers through e-FMS mode out of the corpus fund of the state government, subject to reconciliation of the amount on receipt of allocation from the Ministry of Rural Development," the chief minister said.

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