The Centre on Tuesday allocated Rs 73,000 crore for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, or MGNREGA, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while announcing the Budget for 2022-’23.

The scheme ensures 100 days of guaranteed wage employment of unskilled manual work to at least one adult member of every household in rural areas.

In the 2021 Budget, the Centre had also allocated Rs 73,000 crore to the rural job guarantee scheme. However, the estimate was later revised to Rs 93,000 crore. Thus, this year’s allocation is 25.51% lower than the revised estimates.

Last week, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Gita Gopinath had told BloombergQuint that the government should adequately fund the job guarantee scheme.

“In terms of where the budget should go, there is certainly one piece that should address the very unequal recovery within the economy,” she said. “One dimension is making sure the rural employment guarantee scheme remains well-funded.”

Members of several Opposition parties disapproved of the Centre’s allocation to the scheme.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) in a tweet said that the government had “responded to the demand for urban employment guarantee by cutting down expenditure by 25,000 crores in MGNREGA.”

Trinamool Congress West Bengal President Trinankur Bhattacharjee also expressed his discontent.

Mansoor Khan, chairman of Congress Research Department, noted that the Centre had chosen not to spend on a scheme that “gave hope” to people who lost jobs during the pandemic.