Mumbai: Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday described government's ambitious direct cash transfer scheme as "nothing less than magical", saying the move is aimed at plugging the loopholes in the delivery mechanism and ensure that poor get complete benefits of government schemes.
Explaining the details of direct cash transfer scheme and its benefits to party workers, Chidamabaram termed the scheme as "nothing less than magical", according to MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre.
According to Thakre, Chidambaram also said the the move is aimed at ensuring that the benefits of government programmes reach the masses.
Through the cash transfer scheme the government plans to transfer cash benefits of over two dozen central schemes directly to beneficiary accounts.
The scheme will be launched in 51 districts on January 1.
"The current high fiscal and current account deficits, coupled with low investment, have forced us to take some stringent measures," Chidambaram told a closed-door election workshop held here for the 2014 Lok Sabha and Maharashtra assembly elections, according to Thakre.
Thakre said the Finance Minister also expressed the confidence that these measures will help the economy come out of the present tough phase and that the next two years would see the economy, led by the Congress government, marching ahead with speed.
"Chidambaram informed the participants about the dire present economic situation and issues like inflation, apart from the problems arising out of the high fiscal and current account deficits," Thakre said.
Thakre was briefing the media about the deliberations at the workshop organised by the state Congress unit.
Chidambaram told the partymen that the country maintained a growth rate of over 9 percent during 2004-08 under the UPA-I tenure, despite global recession.
During the NDA regime, the situation was exactly the opposite, Chidambaram said.
At present, there is a need to give an impetus to capital investment in the country and for taking hard fiscal decisions, Chidambaram said.
The period of reduced expenditure would remain till March, 2013, the Finance Minister said.
Addressing the workshop, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the Opposition parties have so far opposed the government policies "just for the sake of opposing them".
Citing an example, he said when Rajiv Gandhi sowed the seeds of the "computer revolution", the Opposition ridiculed him. "However, India now occupies pride of place on the global map owing to Rajiv's decision," Khurshid said.
"Congress is also under attack over 2G and coal allocation issues. It is said that there was a loss to the national exchequer due to the Congress leadership. But this is not true," he said.
The government has given impetus to social and industrial development by ensuring the mobile phone reaches every hand, Khurshid said.
Union Minister of Minority Affairs K Rahman informed the workshop participants about the measures taken by Congress to resolve issues faced by minorities.
"We won't budge from our resolve despite the numerous allegations against Congress. We know that our decisions are in the national interest," the minister said.
Around 200 office-bearers at the event included Maharashtra Congress ministers, MPs and legislators.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who also addressed the day-long conclave, explained the link between foreign investment and economy. "There is a close link between foreign investment and strengthening of the economy," Chavan said.
Justifying the decision on FDI in retail, Chavan said it is a misconception that small shops will face closure due to the decision. "Nowhere in the world has this happened," he said. The decision would benefit farmers and end-consumers, he added.
The workshop was organised in view of party president Sonia Gandhi's directive that Congress should effectively counter "false allegations" levelled by the Opposition.