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Budget cuts funding to rural employment scheme when India faces jobs problem

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Budget cuts funding to rural employment scheme when India faces jobs problem

Synopsis
The government proposes to spend Rs 60,000 crore on the rural jobs guarantee scheme in the next fiscal year that starts April 1, lower than the revised Rs 89,400 crore spending outlay for this financial year, according to the Union Budget document. This is also the smallest allocation since 2017/18 towards the scheme, under which citizens can enroll for jobs to create rural infrastructure and receive a minimum wage for at least 100 days per yea ..

In a jolt to widespread expectations of a spike in budgetary allocation towards the country’s rural jobs guarantee scheme, the finance minister has instead slashed allotment by 33% to the scheme that guarantees jobs in the hinterland.

The government proposes to spend Rs 60,000 crore on the rural jobs guarantee scheme in the next fiscal year that starts April 1, lower than the revised Rs 89,400 crore spending outlay for this financial year, according to the Union Budget document.

This is also the smallest allocation since 2017/18 towards the scheme, under which citizens can enroll for jobs to create rural infrastructure and receive a minimum wage for at least 100 days per year covering all districts in the country.

“Informal workers of India expected that MGNREGA allocations would at least, if not more, see an allocation of the 2 lakh crores. Instead the allocation has been reduced even further to 60,00 crores, which will reduce employment days available, let alon ..

A total of 5.6 crore households availed employment and a total of 225.8 crore person-days employment has been generated under the Scheme (until 6 January 2023), the Survey noted. The work demand under the MGNREGA hovered around the pre-pandemic level between July to November 2022, the Economic Survey said, attributing it to the “normalisation of the rural economy” and “swift recovery from Covid-induced slowdown”.
The scheme, which blocks at least one-third of jobs for women, has over the years been lauded by the World Bank and it also emerged as an important safety net for poor and migrant workers in rural land.

Sitharaman had promised to deliver a Budget to provide relief to the lower and middle-income group. She proposed a slew of income tax changes, including some relief for the super rich, in a Budget that committed to stick to the fiscal glidepath. India will lose Rs. 35,000 crore of net tax revenue after the Union Budget tweaked direct and indirect taxes, Sitharaman said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today also said the budget will fulfill dreams of aspirational society including poor people, middle-class people and farmers.

However, the reduced spending on the rural jobs scheme threatens to thwart the purpose amid a time when experts say jobs in India remain elusive.

India’s unemployment rate rose to a 16-month high of 8.30% in December,, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

The rural economy, crucial for the country’s economic output, is also making an effort to come out of the pangs of the pandemic crisis, which had rendered millions jobless. While rural citizens may find it tough to find enough job days in the hinterland, they may have to migrate to cities to find jobs, if there are any.

The percentage of the population living in India’s rural areas stands at 65% as of 2021. Ironically, the Economic Survey yesterday said, “the focus of the government on rural development is imperative. The emphasis has been on improving the quality of life in rural areas to ensure more equitable and inclusive development.”

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