Want quick rollout of LPG subsidy via direct benefit transfer: FM
Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said that the government wanted a quick rollout of LPG subsidy under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). The rollout all over the country is likely to be completed by the end of 2013-14, he added.
The government today decided to start sending the cooking-gas subsidy directly to the bank accounts of subscribers, and then onto their doorstep in cash, in 20 districts from mid-May.
This will be part of a proposed extension of the direct benefit transfer (DBT) programme by July to 78 new districts, which will include Bengal’s Howrah and Cooch Behar.
The DBT programme, started on January 1 this year, is now in effect in 43 districts and covers 26 central schemes, mostly scholarship programmes. After extension, it will cover three additional schemes — old-age, widow and disability pensions — in all these 43 districts as well as the 78 new districts.
Twenty of the new districts will, however, have an additional scheme under DBT: the cooking-gas subsidy, a senior government source told that these 20 will not include any districts from Bengal.
Under DBT, cash benefits will be transferred directly to people’s bank accounts, which will be linked to their Aadhaar or National Population Registrar (NPR) numbers. The method is expected to reduce the delays and diversions that are a feature of the current delivery system, which is a complicated exercise.
Under the new system, central ministries and departments will digitise the database of their beneficiaries and link it to the beneficiaries’ Aadhaar or NPR numbers. The digitised database will be made available to banks and linked to the beneficiaries’ accounts. This is how the money will come to the bank accounts.
The next step is delivery of the subsidy in cash at the beneficiaries’ homes on the strength of the biometric data of Aadhaar or NPR number holders. The banks will have access to these data, which are stored in Aadhaar or NPR authorities’ databases.
Banking correspondents will ascertain a purported beneficiary’s genuineness by matching his or her biometric data online through micro-ATMs provided by the banks. Once satisfied, they will deliver the cash.
The Centre says there is no immediate plan to start DBT for food or fertiliser subsidies since these are complex schemes. A pilot survey is being conducted for direct cash transfer of food subsidies.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today suggested that post offices be included under the core banking network so that people can receive government benefits through their post office accounts.
“We have come some distance since the DBT programme was rolled out in January,” Singh told a meeting of the National Committee on DBT.
“In this period, we have resolved a number of operational issues. I am encouraged by this progress and hopeful about the future.”
Singh, however, cautioned: “But we have also run into difficulties that we had not anticipated when we began the programme. We must therefore renew our efforts.”
The 78 districts to which the scheme will be extended are in Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.