Finance ministry data indicates that of the 2.23 crore LPG customers identified in the first two phases of the rollout of the direct benefit transfer scheme, Aadhaar numbers of 90.96 lakh such beneficiaries have been seeded in their bank accounts. This means they can get the LPG subsidy directly into their accounts instead of buying the cooking gas cylinders at a subsidised price.
The government has already limited the number of subsidised cooking gas cylinders to each household to nine a year. With the rollout of the DBT (direct benefit transfer) for LPG, customers will get about Rs 4,000 cash every year as subsidy in their bank accounts and will be expected to purchase cooking gas cylinders at market rates.
Petroleum minister Veerappa Moily had, however, recently clarified that the 12-digit Aadhaar number would not be mandatory for the subsidy until the bill for setting up of the Unique Identification Authority was enacted.
In the two-stage process, public sector oil marketing companies upload the cosumers’ data in their records with Aadhar numbers which is then linked to bank accounts of the consumers. The data also shows 1.29 crore such beneficiaries have already had their records linked in the database of the companies.
Direct benefit transfer for LPG was rolled out in 18 districts from June 2013 and by October it was introduced in 79 another districts. The government plans to roll out the scheme in another 194 districts by January next year as it tries to reduce its oil subsidy bill.
There are about 14 crore LPG consumers and the government hopes that by directly transferring subsidy payments to their accounts, it will save Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore annualy.
The under recovery on LPG stood at 532.86 per cylinder on October 16. In fact, of the Rs 25,579 crore under recoveries reported by OMCs in the first quarter of the fiscal, the losses on LPG amounted to about a third at Rs 8,518 crore. In 2012-13, under recoveries of OMCs on LPG amounted to Rs 39,558 crore while their total losses stood at Rs 1,61,029 crore.