New Delhi, Oct 25: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has unveiled a fast-track mission on direct cash transfers to beneficiaries of welfare schemes to infuse credibility to his government’s aam aadmi credentials.
A new “national committee on direct cash transfers” has been tasked with laying down the “overarching vision and direction to enable direct cash transfers of benefits leveraging the investments being made in the Aadhaar (UIDAI) Projectů” Chaired by the Prime Minister, the committee will comprise more than a dozen ministers, UIDAI chairperson Nandan Nilekani, and the cabinet secretary.
The Prime Minister’s principal secretary, Pulok Chatterjee, will be the convenor and work to prioritise a time-line for the cash delivery system. The apex committee will be assisted by an executive committee convened by the deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
It will also identify government programmes for which direct cash transfers can be made to beneficiaries and coordinate efficient and transparent delivery systems with concerned departments.
The new body is also expected to determine a time-line for implementation of the mechanism but government sources said the PMO was looking at covering 18 major states by March 2013. “Cash transfers are already working for some schemes in a few states and we are looking at how well they are operating, but we are aiming at a massive expansion both in terms of schemes and populations covered,” they said.
Currently, cash transfer arrangements operate for some programmes in Tripura, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. According to the sources, half the annual quantum of roughly Rs six lakh crore spent on social sector welfare schemes could come under direct cash transfers.
Three specific sub-committees are in the process of being created to finalise the operational and implementation details of the direct cash transfer system, and to ensure a smooth roll-out. These are: a technology committee to focus on the technology of the payment architecture and tax related issues, a finance inclusion committee to ensure “universal access to banking and complete financial inclusion” and an implementation committee on electronic transfer of benefits to work out transfer details at the ministerial or departmental level.