Direct benefit transfer plan set for expansion

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 20, 2014 00:34 IST

To check rising public expenditure, the government’s two biggest money-spender schemes — subsidised ration for poor and job guarantee in rural areas — will soon be on the Aadhaar-enabled Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) platform.

The disbursal of subsidy for cooking gas cylinders will come back on the DBT platform after the previous UPA government decided to put it on the hold just before general elections.

The UPA, which started transfer of public money directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries through DBT, had deliberately kept the Public Distribution System (PDS) and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) out of it fearing it would invite adverse reaction.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a meeting with Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) officials about a fortnight ago gave a go-ahead to include the two schemes that account for more than `1,50,000 crore of the central expenditure, into the DBT platform.

A planning commission study had estimated that one-fourth of the food grains meant for the poor never reach the beneficiaries and there have been instances of large number of fake job cards to get benefit under MGNREGA. The move would help the government to plug these leakages.

Modi had also instructed that the disbursement of the cooking gas subsidy should be resumed on the DBT platform. The existing schemes of the DBT platform — pensions, scholarships and incentives to save the girl child — would also be extended to these 300 districts, officials said.

The PM has instructed that the UIDAI should ensure complete coverage in these 300 districts and meet the target of seeding of Aadhaar numbers in the bank accounts of at least 80% beneficiaries. “The PM wants the UIDAI to meet the target before the next review meeting to be held sometime in January 2015,” a senior government functionary said.

For that the Planning Commission has called a meeting of chief secretaries of all union territories and states on September 27 and 30 respectively.

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