Direct cash transfer in 20 districts from today

Chidambaram said the direct cash benefit transfer will be rolled out in whole country by the end of 2013.

Updated: Jan 01, 2013, 10:29 AM IST

New Delhi: The government will rollout its "game changer" direct cash transfer scheme in 20 districts to 2 lakh beneficiaries from Tuesday but has decided to hold back the "complex" transfer of food, fertiliser and fuel subsidies for the time being.

Announcing that the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) will be rolled out in a phased manner, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday said benefit of 7 central schemes will be directly credited into the bank accounts of beneficiaries across 20 districts from January 1.

"We are proceeding with a great degree of caution... We will look at transferring all subsidies and benefit through this scheme but we have to do it slowly. We are not going to rush into anything and then find that the system cannot cope with it," he said.

The minister said that DBT, which will check leakages and corruption in subsidies distribution, will be rolled out in 43 districts of 14 states by March 1 -- 20 districts from January 1; 11 from February 1 and remaining 12 from March 1.

The government had earlier proposed to launch the scheme in 43 districts from January 1.

Chidambaram said the direct cash benefit transfer will be rolled out in whole country by the end of 2013.

"This (DBT) is indeed a game-changer for governance, the manner in which we govern. This is a game-changer in which we account for money. It is game changer in the manner in which the benefit reaches the beneficiary without any intermediation by any human being," he said.

Chidambaram said, however, that at this stage "there is no intention" to transfer the subsidies for food, fertiliser, diesel and kerosene through DBT.

"These are complex issues. They have to be studied carefully and only when we are completely satisfied that they are amenable to transfer through DBT, we will think of that," the minister said, adding that subsidy on LPG too would not be provided through DBT in the first phase.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tiwari, who too addressed the media, said the first phase starting Tuesday would benefit about two lakh people.

Chidambaram said all the beneficiaries will get the cash transfer in their bank accounts, even if they do not have the Aadhaar-card (UID) numbers.

He said: "Over the next few days or weeks we will aim at 100 percent penetration of Aadhaar beneficiaries... Whether there is Aadhaar card or not money will be credited, money will be withdrawn."

The government intends to link subsidy disbursal with Aadhaar.

The Minister also said all the 7,900 bank branches in 43 district will have ATM facilities.

Chidambaram said banks have floated a tender for 20 lakh Micro-ATMs which will be inter-operable and will have facility for biometric scanning and Aadhaar authentication.

When asked whether the government was changing the tag- line of the scheme 'Apka Paisa Appke Haat', Chidambaram said the slogan is a "valid tag-line that has certain resonance. It conveys the meaning very effectively but in a formal document we think its proper to call it Direct Benefits Transfer."

Responding to queries, he admitted that there could be glitches in operationalising the scheme but assured that the officials overseeing its implementation will resolve them.

Meanwhile, a press statement said that the direct cash transfer scheme will not be a substitute for delivery of public services which would continue to take place as per the normal delivery channels.

The seven schemes which are ready for payout from January 1 include pre and post matric scholarships for SC, STs and OBCs, Indira Gandhi Matrutva Sahayata Yojana, Dhanalakshmi scheme and stipend scheme for SC, ST job seekers.

The statement said banks have also been asked to expand their reach to provide banking services to every 1,000-1,500 households through a Business Correspondent (BC) or Common Services Centre (CSC) scheme.