Will the magic work?
Estimated cash transfers worth R3.2 trillion a year and estimated government savings of R20,000 crore a year. If there is one programme that defines ambition in governance in terms of delivery of benefits and subsidies of welfare schemes, this is it. The Centre’s direct cash transfer scheme, now called direct benefits transfer (DBT)—that uses Aadhaar-linked bank accounts to transfer cash subsidies and benefits directly to beneficiaries—was rolled out in 20 districts in 16 states on January 1. According to the finance ministry, banks have already floated tenders for 20 lakh micro-ATMs which, once operational, will help the government in directly transferring cash in the beneficiaries’ accounts.
But has the government rushed into rolling out the scheme and has that been done with an eye on the 2014 general elections? It can’t be refuted that the rollout did hit rough weather right at the onset, with the government being forced to prune the number of districts where the scheme had to roll out on January 1, from 51 to 20. The number of schemes was also brought down at the last moment from 34 to 26.
The last-minute scaling down of the rollout is primarily being attributed to infrastructure issues like lack of bank accounts, and gaps in beneficiary lists. In
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