No cash subsidy to food card holders for now: Secy
New Delhi: The direct benefit transfer scheme for cooking gas (LPG) may have been termed a success, but the government is not yet thinking of giving cash subsidy to ration card holders, a top official said on Tuesday.
Before considering any such move, he added, the Centre will have to wait till Aadhaar connectivity is established for beneficiaries at the state level.
Launching the e-payment system in the Department of Food and Public Distribution, Food Secretary Sudhir Kumar said that it would take time to shift to direct cash transfer scheme for foodgrains, and clarified that foodgrains would continue to be supplied to beneficiaries under public distribution system.
"We have still a long way to go in the Direct cash Benefit Transfer scheme. It was taken up by the government, we did not push it in the department for two reasons.
"One that (DBT) requires Aadhaar connectivity, everybody should have Aadhaar. Secondly, we realise when food security bill is under consideration. It has to be passed and implemented...The whole exercise needs to be done again," Kumar told reporters here.
The government has already launched the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme for LPG, wherein cooking gas users in 20 select districts get Rs 435 in their bank account every month as advance which they use for refilling at market rate of about Rs 900.
DBT for food too would entail a similar methodology with beneficiaries getting the difference of ration shop price and market rates in their bank account as cash subsidy.
The secretary hoped that States would collect the Aadhaar number while identifying the beneficiaries for roll out of the food security programme.
"Now ordinance of food security bill is in place the states will be doing fresh exercise to select the beneficiaries. I hope they will be collecting Aadhaar details. Along with the data it should be easy for us to transfer the cash subsidy to the beneficiary under the department of food," he said.
Stating categorically that cash subsidy to be transferred would not be in lieu of foodgrains, Kumar said, "foodgarins will be supplied through the existing PDS shops and only the difference of market price and the price of consumer will be credited to his account".
"There should not be apprehensions in the mind of anybody that the government will do away with the procurement, will do away with distribution and only cash will be transfered," he said.