Cash transfer back on Plan panel drawing board as oil min seeks time

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 12 2012, 07:41am hrs
The Planning Commission on Tuesday took a review meeting with 11 states and six Union Territories to discuss the preparedness for a rapid roll-out of the Direct Cash Transfer Scheme based on the Aadhaar platform.

However, the meeting took place at a time when the oil and petroleum ministry said that the plan will not be easy to implement because of the low base of people with unique identity numbers or Aadhaars. The ministry has stated that the direct cash transfer for LPG will be first implemented in 20 districts and the remaining 31 districts would be covered in February or March. Oil secretary G C Chaturvedi on Tuesday said that direct cash transfer is a very good concept as it will check a lot of pilferage that is currently taking place in marketing of cooking gas (LPG).

The scheme involves government transferring cash subsidy of R520.50 in bank accounts of LPG consumers and asking them to buy their LPG at the market price of R931 per cylinder.

"But the cash transfer is not easy, with Aadhaar penetration being very low. Only 20 crore people have been enrolled for Aadhaar, out of the 120-crore population. Rolling out direct cash transfer in districts with Aadhaar penetration of less than 80-90% will be difficult. We cannot make Aadhaar for cash transfers as the basis in such places, Chaturvedi said.

The government expects Aadhaar penetration to be 80 % in the 51 districts and it was a fair assumption that the beneficiary penetration of Aadhaar would be close to 95 % by December 31.

The government has identified 34 government schemes for a rapid roll-out of Direct Cash Transfer Scheme in 43 districts of the country from January 1, 2013.

The schemes coming under the purview of the R3.2 lakh crore cash transfer scheme would include those of ministry of social justice and empowerment, human resource development, minority affairs, women and child development, health and family and labour and employment.

In the later phase, the benefits of the direct cash transfer would be made available for subsidies given for food, fertiliser and petroleum products.

Earlier, UIDAI had said they will reach 80% penetration in the 31 districts by April, but now they say they will expedite the process, so maybe in February the scheme can be launched in those districts, Chaturvedi added.