Pensions to be disbursed through cash transfer
The flagship scheme of the UPA government, the launch of which was formally announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, will be introduced in the second phase in more districts and states once penetration of Aadhaar-based bank accounts, to be opened under the scheme, goes up by 80 per cent, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said.
As many as 42 welfare schemes of the Centre have been identified for their inclusion in the direct cash subsidy transfer scheme but the first phase will have 29 of these schemes, he said.
The welfare schemes include scholarships provided by various Union Ministries to students, pension to elderly people, rural job scheme and those related to family and health welfare, he added.
“After June 2013, this will be initiated in all the states. Beneficiaries of Centre’s welfare scheme will get their dues direct in their account or in hand through banking correspondent,” Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said.
Cooking gas subsidy
Chidambaram said subsidy on cooking gas could also be provided through direct cash transfer scheme, but in the course of time.
He said subsidy on food and fertiliser would also be brought into the system, but the government needed to examine closely all aspects of including it in direct cash transfer scheme.“Issue of bringing food and fertiliser under the scheme is complex which needs to be addressed,” he said. Ramesh expressed confidence that the government will be able to meet the deadline of December 2013, set for the implementation of the flagship scheme across the country.
He promised that the scheme would be introduced in other states including Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam from June-July next year.
Chidambaram said in areas where subsidy could not be transferred in cash to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries, the service of banking correspondents will be utilised.
Other than those engaged by the banks, the job of the banking correspondents could be taken up by any organisation, group or individual who could operate hand-held ATM devices, he added.
At the meeting presided over by the prime minister on Monday on the issue, it was decided to change the definition of banking correspondents. “Now a banking correspondent could be anyone from a women’s self help group to a school teacher or a post officer,” Ramesh said.