A panel headed by former Rural Development Secretary and advisor in the PMO, Amarjeet Sinha, has been set up to recommend structural and other reforms required in the rural job guarantee scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).

As one of the main tasks of the panel is to suggest measures to reduce regional imbalance by offering more opportunities to the most deserving States, going forward, there could be tweaks in the guidelines on the allocation of funds to States.

The panel has been asked to submit its report by February, and the first meeting was held on November 21. Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran is also a member of the Sinha-led panel.

Central funds

The allocation of central funds under MNREGA was ₹1,11,169.53 crore in 2020–21 (actual) and ₹98,000 crore in 2021-22 (RE), whereas for FY 2022–23, the BE has been fixed at ₹73,000 crore.

The committee will also suggest measures to close the gaps in the implementation of the job guarantee scheme, besides recommending improvements in the utilisation of funds by those States where per capita income is low.

The parliamentary standing committee on rural development had earlier this year criticised the government for a lack of effective coordination with States in terms of the timely release of MGNREGA funds.

The MNREGA law gives people in rural areas the right to at least 100 days of work per year at the minimum wage for tasks such as building roads, wells, and other rural infrastructure.

Rural unemployment in India is reported to have stayed around 7 per cent throughout the majority of the current fiscal year.