Although the Central government
claims a big drop in the delay in payment
of rural job scheme workers in the first four months of 2017-18, civil society activists
on Friday alleged that a big reason for the improved performance is the wrong process of calculating delays in contravention of the act.
According to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), wage delays and compensation for the delay has to be calculated till wages
are deposited in the bank account of workers, however, activists
alleged that the Centre in its master circular of 2017-18 has said that Management Information System (MIS) is designed to calculate delays only upto the time the Fund Transfer Order
(FTO) is generated by the state government for the second time.
FTO is an electronic voucher which is generated by the MGNREGA
software that lists the name of worker who has done the work along with the amount of wage payable to him, calculated on the basis of the work done.
This voucher is signed by the state government. Activists
say that estimating delays from the time of generation of FTOs instead of time when wage is actually credited to the bank account ensures that on paper wage payment
improves, while on ground workers don't get their wages
Under MGNREGA, workers have to be mandatorily paid within 15 days of them completing their allocated work.
In addition, they are entitled to receive compensation for each day that they faced delay in receiving wages
after the stipulated 15 days.
An independent study done by Rajendra Narayanan from the Azim Premji University, along with others across 10 states by analysing samples, collected from 3,446 Gram Panchayats showed as the wage delays is partially calculated, the corresponding compensation is also not paid in most cases.
It showed that compensation under MGNREGA
was delayed either by the Centre or the state governments in almost half of the 92 lakh cases it studied.
The outcomes of the ongoing study were shared at a press conference called in New Delhi by the Swaraj Abhiyan, an NGO run by Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan.
The study showed that while the MGNREGA
online portal calculated compensation for the sample gram panchayats at Rs 15.6 crore, the uncalculated compensation stood at around Rs 21 crore because of the incorrect method of calculating delays in the first place.
It said that for the entire country as per the MGNREGA
Information System the reported delay compensation in 2016-17 was around Rs 519 crore, while it should be Rs 1,208 crore going by their assessment.
The Centre meanwhile, in the statement issued on Friday claimed that in the first four months of 2017-18 (April to July) over 84 per cent of workers have been paid wages
on time (i.e. within 15 days), which is a remarkable improvement compared to earlier years.
"98 per cent payments are through the Electronic Fund Management System (e-FMS) and the Central Government
has ensured timely release of funds and states have responded by strengthening the implementation machinery to provide timely payments," it said.
However, Yadav alleged that almost 80 per cent of the total funds allocated for MGNREGA
in 2017-18 has been exhausted in the first four months, while just around 48 per cent of approved labour budget for the year has been used by the states.
He said they have also raised this issue in Supreme Court, where a case is pending on drought relief.
He added that in 2017-18, the Central government
has approved around 75 per cent of the labour budget projected by states, while in 2016-17 it was around 70 per cent of the projected budget.
also alleged that proper social audit of the MGNREGA
works have not been done, to which the Centre's statement said that it has set up an independent Social Audit Units in 24 states and 3,100 State Resource Persons have been trained to conduct social audit as per auditing standards finalised in consultation with the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).