New Delhi: The wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act are likely to increase as the Rural Development Ministry is considering "updating" the baseline, based on which workers are paid, to insulate the poor in rural areas from the rising cost of living.
The baseline for annual revision of wages paid under MNREGA "can be changed" from Consumer Price Index-Agriculture Labour (CPI-AL) to Consumer Price Index for Rural (CPI-Rural).
"We are looking into the suggestion of the S Mahendra Dev Committee to change the baseline for revision of wages paid under MNREGA to CPI-Rural from CPI-AL, but the final call will be taken after consultation with all state governments," Rural Development Secretary Amarjeet Sinha said.
A high-level committee set up by the Centre under economist S Mahendra Dev had suggested that the wages under MNREGA should be equal to or higher than the minimum wage in states.
The panel had also suggested that MGNREGA wage rates be revised every year on the basis of CPI-Rural as it takes into consideration more variables for rural areas as compared to CPI-AL.
According to sources, the Rural Ministry has already moved the proposal to the Finance Ministry, which has asked for more deliberations on the issue.
At present, the wages under MNREGA varies from Rs 167 in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Bihar to Rs 259 in Hayana.
The budget provision of Rs 38,500 crore under the rural employment scheme in 2016-17 has been increased to Rs 48,000 crore in 2017-18.
Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the governmet is working on creating productive assets to improve farm productivity and incomes.
He said this is the highest ever allocation for MGNREGA.