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PC wants food and fertiliser subsidies out of DBT for now

Transfer of LPG subsidy through the scheme will be accelerated

Written by Ruhi Tewari | New Delhi | Published: April 30, 2013 2:16 am

In what seems to be bottlenecks in implementing the Direct Benefits Transfer scheme,Finance Minister P Chidambaram is learnt to have suggested that subsidies for fertilisers and food be kept out of the scheme for the time being. The suggestion was made on April 5 during the high-level meeting of the National Committee on Direct Transfers chaired by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In the meeting,Singh had expressed concerns about monitoring and tracking the DBT scheme.

According to the summary record of discussions prepared by the Prime Minister’s Office,Chidambaram said food and fertilisers have complex issues that need to be resolved before they are brought under the scheme.

“The Finance Minister sounded a note of caution while recognising the enthusiasm for the DBT programme as a whole. The Finance Minister mentioned that it is better to keep fertilisers and food on the back-burner for the time being,” the summary record stated.

It also states that the government has decided to go ahead with DBT of LPG subsidy. “Transfer of LPG subsidy through DBT is eminently doable and must be accelerated,” the note said. However,no time frame has been specified. The government had earlier decided to exclude LPG subsidy in the first phase.

Meanwhile,the Centre on Monday convened a meeting of district magistrates to take stock of the scheme and plug the existing gaps.

At the meeting,Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said it is a matter of a few months before glitches in the scheme’s implementation are ironed out. “My guess is that in the next 5-6 months,in most of the areas where the scheme is being rolled out,you will get a very high rate of satisfaction,” he said. He added that there are no fundamental problems in the scheme. The meeting was also addressed by Chidambaram,Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily.

The DBT has been operational in 43 districts since January 1 and currently covers 25 schemes. In the last meeting held on April 5,it was decided to extend the scheme to 78 more districts as part of phase II beginning July.

This would imply that the scheme would cover nearly one-fifth of the country.

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