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Last Updated : Jan 04, 2018 03:27 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Will complete 10 million houses under PMAY by Dec'18: Department of Rural Development

We have a major housing program, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), under which we will complete 10 million houses by December 2018, said Amarjeet Sinha, Secretary of Department of Rural Development in an interview to CNBC-TV18.

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We have a major housing program, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), under which we will complete 10 million houses by December 2018, said Amarjeet Sinha, Secretary of Department of Rural Development in an interview to CNBC-TV18.

Below is the verbatim transcript of the interview.

Latha: Tell us more about the government programmes and what to expect?

A: As you are aware last year the budget estimate was Rs 48,000 crore for 2017-2018 and if you look at the medium-term expenditure framework which was placed in parliament in the last session, the medium-term expenditure framework had indicated Rs 55,000 crore in 2018-2019. If you look at the supplementary budget support which is proposed and currently in parliament, in 2017-2018 the total requirement of about Rs 55,000 crore is what is it there.

We have not projected anything beyond this because this is a demand based programme. It a lot depends also on how the monsoon is in the coming year. If we have good rains and the demand comes down also along with the employment under MGNREGS we have a major housing program, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), under which we will complete 10 million houses by December 2018.

Our roads programme is in full swing, we want to go beyond what we could achieve, last year it was 130 KM per day. A move up further in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 because by March 2019 we want to connect all the habitations. We have been able to connect 82 percent so far and all these also generate a lot of employment. Overall, if you look at the financial transfers to rural India, in the last two-and-a-half-three years there has been, all put together, a much larger transfer because as you are aware even under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana we now have a state share also coming in. We have, under the housing programmes, some state share coming in. So from an allocation of Rs 50,000 crore from all rural development programmes in 2012-2013 this year 2017-2018 we will end the year at about Rs 109,000 crore.

To that if I add the state shares and also the transfers from the 14th Finance Commission then it is a manifold increase in resource availability and a lot of that creates employment specially wage employment as well in rural areas. It is for this reason that if you look at the HSBC study or the other studies which came out on the rural distress in trying to explain the rural conundrum those who depend on wages, which is the poorer people in rural India, there the wage rate seems to have risen even in real terms over the last one year. It only confirms that all these public interventions seem to be bearing fruit and even in terms of the assets being generated, a lot of our thrust has been in MGNREGS on productive assets, on durable assets. We had a study by Dr Manoj Panda of Institute of Economic Growth recently which again confirmed that our water conservation thrust has been quite effective.

Latha: That is a many sided answer, so, we have several questions from it. However, first let me start by asking therefore can we say, I mean obviously as you say it is a demand led project, MGNREGS, therefore should we work with Rs 55,000 crore as the likely Budget number?

A: To begin with at the year, as the year begins, the medium term expenditure framework had indicated that and so if I go only by the medium term expenditure framework which is placed in parliament, that is what it had suggested at that point of time.

Latha: But you don’t have to go by that, isn't it? Your ministry can always ask for more if you found demand?

A: I think the final figures are known to nobody at this stage. Final figures are a matter of the final Budget, but what we have as a document in the public domain at the moment is the medium term expenditure framework which had suggested Rs 55,000 crore in 2018-2019.

Sonia: The other big concern was the delay in wage payments because despite that Rs 48,000 crore Budget allocation, there were reports that 19 states payments had frozen, 92 million workers did not get any wage payments, etc. What is the status check on that and in the Budget itself, is the government considering any proposal in order to speed up wage payments or change the wage payment methodology, etc.?

A: Unfortunately a lot of that information was not correct factually. The reason why I say it, we have been monitoring the generation of payments and timely generation of payments. You look at the site which is in the public domain, it is a transaction based MIS available to everybody. 26 percent payments were on time three years ago; this year as far as generating payments on time goes, in 85.41 percent cases, even today this morning you can check on our site, the payments have been generated on time.

Now, payment generation on time means that if somebody did work well within 15 days, the measurements and the fund transfer orders have been generated. The point which has been raised, thereafter two issues. One was an issue that through the banking process, once the fund transfer order is generated, have we been able to reach the monies on time. We have started monitoring that as well with the banks, and there is improvement there. The other reason why in many cases where delay gets reported is not because the payment was not generated on time, it is for the simple reason that we have to follow financial rules as well.

The general financial rules of government make it mandatory that any state, society, or government which spends money, it has to submit the audited accounts of the previous year by September 30 of the next year. Now after September 30, release of funds to state governments can only happen if they have complied with all the financial rules, including submission of the audited report. So many a times that is the problem. However, as I mentioned, if you look at the payment generation on time, from 26 percent, we have moved up to 85.41 percent. We are working very hard with states, most of the state governments have submitted their audited accounts on time, but when there are discrepancies in the financial statements in a few states only, then what happens is, things get a little delayed for that state.

We are trying our best, we have worked out a checklist in partnership with state governments explaining the requirements of financial diligence because we would like our system to be completely accountable. Transparency is something which we have pushed, we have payments, and 97 percent payments are on the electronic fund management system only to ensure that we pay on time, only to ensure that there is full transparency. 6.7 crore workers have aadhaar linked bank accounts, so, the material payments also go to the vendor through the system of fund transfer orders. So our entire effort has been on transparency besides of course the more than 2 crore assets which are already geo-tagged which can be seen by anybody in the public domain.

Latha: I will tell you what it was our Delhi team which gave us this number of Rs 66,000 crore and the reason why we went with that number or thought one would believe is that there are a lot of trend fall in the number of jobs generated. Look at the approved labour budget that has fallen from Rs 258 crore in 2017-2018 to Rs 225 crore. Person days generated so far was 220 crore in 2013-2014 that has fallen to 172 crore. On several parameters actually the trend numbers are going down. Total number of individual households that worked it was at 4.79 it has fallen to 4.50 crore, so I am asking you if you actually are asking for more because more labour needs to be generated after all we have farmer agitations day in and day out in the capital. I am quoting from yours at a glance table?

A: I will respond to that, in fact the position is as follows - the generation of work the demand for work as I explained all other programmes, housing programme every house that we are constructing under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana requires about 145 person days of work. We provide 90 days under MGNREGA.
First Published on Jan 4, 2018 12:08 pm

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