Racing against time to roll out the full benefits of the ambitious Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) ahead of the next general elections, the UPA government may expand it to 75 more districts.
Currently the scheme — aimed to deliver subsidies or grants directly into beneficiaries’ bank accounts, is currently available in 51 districts across the country.
After several complaints have poured in about major roadblocks of the scheme, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet key ministers on April 3 to firefight these problem areas.
Rahul Gandhi’s Youth Congress too, had set up an independent overseeing body comprising the local Youth Congress presidents.
Their reports too, point out to impediments that have so far crippled the scheme that is hailed by Gandhi as the game-changer for the 2014 polls.
Sources said the Prime Minister is likely to take a call on deciding the rate of commission for the banking correspondents as it has affected the opening of bank accounts.
“Banks have been found to limited interest in opening zero-balance accounts. They expect commission rate of at least 3% as against the current rate of 1%. Otherwise it becomes unviable for them to maintain such accounts,” said an official involved in the DBT planning.
The meeting is also likely to address the issues like shortfall of kits to capture biometrics of beneficiaries. “Shortage of kits has drastically lowered the rate of enrollment in several parts of Maharashtra,” said the official.
General lack of awareness about the scheme is also haunting the DBT despite the Congress coining the catchy slogan of “aap ka paisa, aap ke haath.”
Meanwhile, the Planning Commission has proposed to add 75 districts to DBT in the next three months. This includes 30 districts with the home ministry’s National Population Register (NPR) for enrollment.
Till date, the government has rolled out DBT only in those places where the biometric enrollment for Aadhaar number was done by Unique Identification Authority of India.