| Harun Rasid Khan (left) and Prasanna Acharya in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee |
Bhubaneswar, Nov. 15: Odisha today became the first state to launch a programme under which the beneficiaries of the central government-funded Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme will directly receive their wages in their bank accounts.
The scheme is called electronic fund management system (e-FMS) under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). The central government provides 100-day jobs to unemployed people in rural areas.
In the state, there are 62.02 lakh job cardholders. Of them, 57 per cent have bank accounts, while the remaining hold post office savings accounts. In the first phase, around 35 lakh job cardholders with bank accounts will benefit from the e-FMS scheme. By February, people with postal bank accounts will be covered. During the last financial year, the central government had spent Rs 3,800 crore on MGNREGS in Odisha.
Deputy governor of Reserve Bank of India H.R. Khan, who was present at the launch today, said the e-FMS system was launched in four states (Odisha, Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan) on a pilot basis. But Odisha became the first state to roll out the scheme to all the gram panchayats across the state.
“Now all MGNREGS beneficiaries in Odisha with bank accounts have been covered under e-FMS. The next challenge is to provide them access to e-banking facilities. At least 10 per cent ATMs should be located in rural areas so that rural people may benefit from e-banking facilities,” Khan said.
With the introduction of e-FMS, wage payment will now be credited to the bank accounts of respective beneficiaries online within one day of the transaction. This will reduce the turn around time required for wage processing and payment.
Earlier, the wage processing and payment used to take months. The wage payment order was being processed at the gram panchayat, block and department level and it was being forwarded to respective banks for payment through cheques.
The state’s finance minister, Prasanna Acharya, and panchayati raj minister Kalpataru Das jointly launched the e-FMS scheme here this evening. With the click of the mouse, the two ministers made a transaction of Rs 13.05 lakh. The payments will be directly credited into accounts of MGNREGS workers tomorrow.
Describing this as a “revolutionary step”, finance minister Acharya said it could be replicated in making payment to farmers under paddy procurement scheme.
Panchayati raj minister Das said delay in payment of wages to MGNREGS workers was one of the major grievances, which would now be addressed. “But the problem will persist in case of postal savings bank account holders,” he said, adding that e-FMS should be extended to this segment too.
Earlier in June, e-FMS was launched in Odisha on a pilot basis for Ganjam, Gajapati and Mayurbhanj districts and one gram panchayat of the remaining 27 districts. Today, the scheme was extended to the entire state.
The scheme was launched in joint collaboration of union rural development ministry, Reserve Bank, State Bank of India, other commercial banks including regional rural banks apart from the state panchayati raj and finance departments.