New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said bank and post office accounts opened under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) will help the government provide direct cash transfers to the people.
“MNREGA has brought momentum in the financial inclusion of our rural population. Besides direct financial benefit, the scheme has given many indirect benefits to the people and brought down the migration graph,” Singh said at a conference on the rural jobs scheme.
The Prime Minister said the more than four crore accounts opened in banks, besides those in post offices, “will assist us in reaching the incentives of the direct benefit transfer scheme to the rural population”.
The use of information technology in MNREGA has helped make governance better and increase accountability and transparency in government work, he said.
Thirty new works have been added to the list of works permitted under MNREGA, whose focus is mainly on providing employment in rural areas, especially in agriculture, he said.
Singh the services being provided under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) can be improved if the resources available with both MNREGA and ICDS are deployed.
The Prime Minister also asked the rural development ministry to ensure, in consultation with states, that panchayats are provided full technical assistance. “This will help prepare the labour budget truly as per the local development plan and will facilitate the inclusion of all possible resources. Besides, this will also strengthen the Panchyati Raj institutions and increase people’s participation in development works,” Singh said.
The Prime Minister said around eight crore people have benefited from the scheme so far and Rs.1.3 trillion has reached them under it.
“People from the Schedule castes/Scheduled Tribes (SC/STs) have benefited in more than 50% of the works while the participation of women in these scheme has been around 47%. Perhaps, this is the first time that women are getting wages equal to their male counterparts,” he said.
Singh also noted that 80% of the wages being given to women are going in banks and post offices. “Due to the scheme, the number of women is on constant rise, who take the financial decisions of their families,” he said.
This shows how much importance the government gives to the policies and programmes for inclusive growth, Singh said, adding that a close look at the seven-year record of MNREGA shows that it accrued benefits to the poorest, especially small farmers and landless labourers.
He said the scheme led to good results in management of natural resources, especially in rain-fed areas of the country. “There is enough proof that the scheme has helped to a great extent in getting the small and very small farmers a better produce by increasing land productivity and water conservation,” Singh said.
The emphasis has been on better planning, increasing the role of panchayats and improving the quality of assets under the amended rules for MNREGA which are being formally implemented today, he said.
The Prime Minister, while reiterating his government’s commitment to MNREGA, said successful experiments made by the awardees for adopting new methods in implementing the scheme should be taken note of.