All of Prime Minister job funds to go to wagesIn the third year of its implementation, the programme has so far been a let-down as it fails to achieve its target.
Local units which receive funds for implementing the Prime Minister Employment Programme, the government scheme to provide a minimum 100 days of wage-employment for unemployed citizens, will have to spend the whole budget on wages only.
With the first amendment to the Prime Minister Employment Programme Operating Guidelines, the government has introduced a new provision that makes it mandatory for the local level to spend the budget allocated for the employment programme on paying citizens who work under it.
According to Suman Ghimire, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, the changes were effected to attract more citizens to the programme that is being implemented across the country to create opportunities locally.
“With the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on employment opportunities here to stay, there was a need for generating more jobs. During consultations with the Ministry of Finance, it was also highlighted that more and more citizens should be linked with the PMEP,” Ghimire, who is also the national director for the programme, told the Post.
“There was also a challenge for maximising the reach of the programme. Therefore, the decision was made to spend all the budget on distributing wages.”
Local governments used to spend 70 percent of the budget on wages for the registered unemployed population engaged in labour-intensive public works under the programme. The remaining 30 percent could be spent on buying construction materials and meeting other expenses of such projects.
With the new condition set for budget expenditure, local units will have to fund the procurement of construction materials and the purchase of equipment, safety gear for workers and meet contingency expenses which were earlier covered from the 30 percent programme budget made available by the federal government.
The government has already disbursed Rs6.89 billion to 569 local units for providing temporary employment as part of the programme, in which the government aims to create 200,000 jobs this fiscal year.
With the budget allocated so far, the Labour Ministry says it would be able to provide a minimum 100 days of wage employment for 133,327 jobless—which is still behind its target. A worker will get a daily wage of Rs517 under the programme.
“We wanted to expedite the progress of PMEP since early this year. So the budget was sent in the first month of the fiscal year,” said Ghimire. “However, local units have not been able to kick off the programme efficiently. The ministry recently held a virtual orientation for the representatives of all 753 local units to discuss how the PMEP can be implemented effectively.”
This year, the Labour Ministry has also directed the local level to ensure that priority groups get to work for 100 days before other groups of unemployed citizens are mobilised under the public projects.
In the third year of its implementation, the programme has so far been a let-down as it fails to achieve its target of providing the minimum 100 days of work for the targeted population in any local unit.
The government has high hopes of providing job opportunities when the country’s labour market has been ravaged by the pandemic.
“While implementing the PMEP, our main focus is on productive investment and creative productivity at the local level,” said Ghimire.
“We hope this year’s progress will be better as we have also been empowering Employment Service Centres in local units.”