Govt may give free cheques to 'vulnerable'

Govt may give free cheques to 'vulnerable'
The Centre is toying with the idea of giving free cheques to a section of the “most vulnerable” to raise their incomes to a certain threshold. A day after presenting the Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said political parties must appreciate that it is a better alternative for poverty elimination. The idea is on the lines of the Economic Survey’s pitch for a universal basic income (UBI).

The Budget, however, did not propose UBI. “We have mostly an unstructured and untargeted subsidy regime in India. Many subsidies like that for fertiliser are used more by the rich. So it is better to select 30%-35% of most vulnerable persons and give a cheque in their hand to lift them out of poverty,” Jaitley said in a series of tweets.
He said UBI was a wonderful idea if implemented, but Indian politics needed to reach a mature level to do that. The Congress had opposed the idea way ahead of the Budget. Anticipating that the government may toy with UBI, former finance minister P Chidambaram had rejected the idea on the premise that the resources at the government’s disposal is not sufficient to foot a huge UBI bill.

UBI is a form of social security under which the state transfers a certain sum of money to its poor citizens to supplement their income to reach a certain threshold. It is an alternative to the existing subsidy regime and plethora of welfare schemes which are not well-targeted and there are complaints of large-scale leakage.

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