CAG to audit MNREGA accounts at panchayat level

New Delhi: Amid reports of corruption in MNREGA implementation, the government on Tuesday said representatives of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) will be sent to gram panchayats to audit MNREGA accounts.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA), launched in February 2006, provides for a legal guarantee for 100 days employment to rural household at a minimum wage of Rs 100 a day. However, the government has come under attack for misuse of funds under the scheme.

"Nobody should be spared for corruption. One representative of CAG will visit gram panchayat for auditing MNREGA accounts," Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain said during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha.

Noting that state governments have the power to take action against those who misuse funds of the scheme, he said, "The Centre will take action if the proof of documents is shown on corrupt National Level Monitors (NLMs)."

Last month, the Rural Development Ministry had said it is looking at social audit-related problems of each state individually as the structure or rules governing gram sabhas and panchayats are a state-subject.

A senior official had also said the ministry would tighten the audit system, which includes broadening the scope of the CAG in the scheme.

The official had said that the CAG was of the view that MNREGA accounts should be audited in every district annually by local fund audit or chartered accountants appointed by state governments, and they should be empowered to give orders on how to audit.

As of now, CAG has been auditing the finances of the scheme and social auditors appointed by individual state governments have been keeping track of the various works undertaken at the ground-level. However, differences between panchayat members and those conducting social audit caused government to rethink about their roles in the whole process.

The importance of CAG`s enhanced role compounds as the ministry`s budgetary demand for the scheme is likely to jump to Rs 60,000 crore from the current budget of Rs 40,000 crore.