After reports clearly indicated that the States had run out of funds for expenditure on wages and materials for the MGNREGS, the Government announced ₹10,000 crore in additional funds as an interim measure. Though allocated on November 5, the scheme’s financial statement as on November 25 still showed a negative net balance of ₹9,888 crore indicating that the balance sheets were in the red in 24 States and Union Territories. This means that the fund crunch suffered by the scheme due to high demand and a low budgeted outlay in the Union Budget for this financial year, continues. The high demand is an indication of the extended effects of the pandemic in rural areas, and a continuing lack of funds will hurt any further demand for work in such areas besides of course delaying payments for those who have already completed work. The impact of the lockdowns during the pandemic has continued to depress employment levels and rural wage incomes, which is why the MGNREGS has proven to be a

Since its onset in 2017, the GST regime to subsume multiple State and Central levies was criticised for far too many tax rates that were amenable to creating complications instead of simplifying taxation. The Government had hinted that rates could be reviewed once the system stabilised. Now, with GST in its fifth year, the Government has assessed it is about time to consider a reboot, partly because revenues are falling short of expectations, despite healthy monthly collections. Next month, a Group of Ministers set up by the GST Council is expected to propose changes, including merging slabs, with a road map for immediate, short- and medium-term changes. This mandate marked an expansion of its initially stated task of rationalising tax rates to bolster revenues. To recap, there are eight effective GST rates, including zero on essential goods, standard rates of 5%, 12% and 18% for most goods and services, and a 28% tax plus GST Compensation Cess on sin or demerit goods. Special low
 
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