New Delhi: Government on Friday insisted in Lok Sabha that it was committed to MGNREGA but noted that there are certain aspects, including the need of enhancing asset quality, which require "revisit of the scheme".
Rural Development Minister Birender Singh sought to allay apprehension of opposition members that government was diluting the rural job guarantee scheme and said the Centre allocated Rs 34,000 crore this fiscal against Rs 33,000 crore provided for it in the last year.
He was replying to a discussion on the reported dilution of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
Singh said if at any time the Centre thought that changes in the scheme were required to help the rural poor, then "we will certainly go for changes".
"Till October 31, the allocation of funds to different states was Rs 26,711 crore. We have also cleared about Rs 21,700 crore to nine states against pending wage dues," Singh said, rejecting criticism that states were not being paid arrears.
In most cases, states were to blame more than the Centre as they did not follow procedures like sending audit reports while seeking money from the central government.
To improve the quality of assets created under the scheme, the Centre has gone for convergence plans under which MGNREGA budget is utilised to help other departments create asset.
Noting that there are certain things which require a revisit of the scheme, Singh said the last four-five years' record show that the average days of labour was only 50 days against 100 days stipulated by MGNREGA.
"Someone is requiring the job for 30 days and some other person for 40 days," he said, adding it it meant that 50 per cent of the man-days are still to be utilised.
73 per cent of the total work is labour component and 24 per cent material component, he said, replying to concerns of some lawmakers that labour and material ratio of 60 and 40 was being reduced. Some members, he noted, wanted material component enhanced to improve quality of work.