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Rajasthan Government Introduces Bill for Minimum Income Guarantee

In News
July 28, 2023
Minimum Income Guarantee Bill

On 18th July 2023, the Ashok Gehlot government introduced the Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill, 2023 with the aim of providing “extra income” to individuals and households in the state.

The Bill primarily focuses on three main areas: the Right to Minimum Guaranteed Income, the Right to Guaranteed Employment, and the Right to Guaranteed Social Security Pension.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot highlights that the introduction of the Bill to guarantee minimum income marks the closest approach by a Congress government since its 2019 pledge to implement NYAY, a minimum income guarantee program. He emphasizes that social security is an entitlement and asserts that it is the inherent “right” of people to live their lives with dignity.

Overview of the Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill of 2023

The Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill is one among several initiatives implemented by the state government to alleviate the impact of inflation. Drawing inspiration from the concept of Universal Basic Income, the bill serves as a legal assurance, ensuring both employment opportunities and pensions for all citizens of the state.

The Bill ensures that every family in the state receives a guaranteed employment opportunity for 125 days each year. Additionally, individuals belonging to categories such as the aged, disabled, widows, and single women will be entitled to a minimum pension of ₹1,000 per month.

Crucially, the pension amount will be raised annually at a rate of 15%.

The estimated cost of the scheme is ₹2,500 crore per annum, with the possibility of an increase in the future.

 Key Provisions of the Bill Guaranteeing Minimum Income in Rajasthan

  • Guaranteed Minimum Income:

The Rajasthan government has increased the number of guaranteed days of employment provided to families in the state. In urban areas, families will receive 125 days of guaranteed employment through the Indira Gandhi Shahri Rozgar Guarantee Yojana, and in rural areas, they will receive 100 days of work guaranteed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme, supplemented by an additional 25 days of employment provided by the government.

  • Assured Employment:

Under the Right to Employment, the Rajasthan government will ensure that families receive minimum wages on a weekly basis or within two weeks after completing work under the urban or rural employment schemes. They will appoint a designated Program Officer to implement the Act, who will ensure that the job site is located within 5 km of the job card’s registration in both areas. If the Program Officer fails to provide employment within 15 days of receiving the application, then the applicant is entitled to receive weekly unemployment allowance within a fortnight.

  • Assured Social Security Pension:

All individuals falling into the categories of old age, specially-abled, widow, or single women with specified eligibility criteria will be eligible to receive a pension. The pension amount will gradually increase over the base rate in two increments – 5% in July and 10% in January, commencing from the financial year 2024-2025.

Criticism of the bill:

Criticism of the Bill revolves around its timing, with many questioning its introduction just months before the Legislative Assembly elections in Rajasthan. This has led to suspicions of potential political motivations, with critics suggesting it could be a populist tactic to garner voter support.

An area of major concern centers on the increasing costs of the scheme, which are anticipated to rise by 15% each year.

 This poses significant challenges in finding sustainable and viable funding sources, potentially impacting the state’s financial stability in the long term.

Critics also express doubts about the successful execution of the scheme, emphasizing the critical importance of efficiently identifying beneficiaries, ensuring effective monitoring, and timely distribution of benefits, including wages and pensions.

Furthermore, there are apprehensions about the integration of the scheme with existing platform systems, raising potential issues regarding data privacy that need to be carefully addressed.

Social Activists’ Response to the Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill:

The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) shared a draft of the Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill with the state government, which was appreciated for its unique features and focus on fulfilling essential public needs.

 Despite some variations between the draft and official version of the Bill, activists have pointed out that certain provisions can still be included later through the rules attached to the act.