New Delhi: The Centre on Monday said the MNREGA Act will be amended to end the disparity with minimum wages even as it issued a notification revising the wage rates under the employment guarantee scheme for all states and Union Territories in the new financial year.
The MNREGA wage rate is different in each states as it is linked to their Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour (CPIAL).
The central government's decision assumes significance in view of the Supreme Court considering the Karnataka High Court verdict that the central government is liable to pay higher wages under the programme in tandem with that of the state minimum wage rate.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said government is likely to bring an amendment to the MNREGA Act in the second part of the budget session to end the controversy of MNREGA wage rate and minimum wage rate.
"We won't amend the Minimum Wage Act. We will amend the MNREGA and we will bring this amendment in this session of Parliament," the Minister, who tabled a statement regarding revision of MNREGA wage rate in Parliament, told reporters.
Ramesh said the Government had examined both options of amending Minimum Wage Act and amending MNREGA and "the weight of opinion is now that it is easier to amend MNREGA than to amend the minimum wages in order to ensure that there is no discrepancy between the two bills."
"We are likely to introduce this amend in the budget session of Parliament," he said.
Interestingly, the new wage rate that has been fixed for Karnataka (Rs 155) exceeds the minimum wage rate of Rs 145.58 of agriculture labourer in Karnataka.
"Without wishing to comment on the case that is currently subjudice in Supreme Court, I want to say that with this revision the wage rate in Karnataka is higher than the minimum wage rate," Ramesh said.