A comprehensive review by the Centre last week of the delivery of its 461 schemes, including NREGS, PDS, pensions and LPG across states, showed that there has been a saving of Rs 1,557 crore due to implementation of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes. Under DBT, the subsidies are directly transferred to beneficiaries through their bank accounts.
The amount transferred through DBT transactions in 2017-18 registered till November was Rs 52,737.32 crore, reaching around 59.42 crore beneficiaries. In 2016-2017, Rs 74,607.55 crore were transferred to 35.70 crore beneficiaries. This, the officials at the Centre, said was significant growth, considering the the funds transferred in 2013-2014 was only Rs 7,367 crore and number of beneficiaries was only 10.81 crore.
Addressing a rally in Bidar, Karnataka, on October 29, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said due to the DBT scheme, leakages of over Rs 57,000 crore, which earlier used to end up in the hands of middlemen has been plugged. Officials said for the past one year, the Centre has been working to fully digitilise the rollout of all 461 subsidies through DBT and has asked states to comply by its “less cash” transactions in public service delivery.
According to government data till November 6, 2017, the total number of DBT transactions in 2017-2018 has already crossed 91.33 crores. It was 153.01 crores in 2016-2017 and 134.56 crores in 2015-2016. From 2013 to 2015, the total number of DBT transactions were only 62.51crore.
Till November 2017, states and Union territories have reported to the Centre that they have identified around 2,000 DBT applicable state schemes for implementation and savings of Rs 1,557.25 crore.
Among states that have registered significant savings due to DBT are Kerala with Rs 607 crore, Uttar Pradesh with Rs 520 crore and Andhra Pradesh with Rs 420.4 crore. Among Union territories, Chandigarh alone has reported savings of over Rs 2 crore.
The review has also shown significant savings because of “reduced cost of transfers, rationalising fund flows and preventing pilferages and leakages,” said government officials. The review shows savings worth .`57,029 crore alone through removal of ghost beneficiaries and weeding out duplicated accounts.
According to the numbers, the PAHAL scheme of the petroleum ministry that provides LPG subsidy to the beneficiary’s account once the cylinder is bought from the market has reported savings up to to Rs 29,769 crores up to 2016-2017 alone. NREGS led to savings with Rs 11, 741 crores till 2016-2017 and the department of Food and Public distribution could save .`14,000 crore till 2016-2017 with its implementation of Aadhaar based biometric authentication of beneficiaries under which 2.8 lakh Aadhaar based biometric authentication of beneficiaries under which 2.8 lakh fair price shops were automated.
Additionally, the department of fertilisers is implenting an Aadhaar-based DBT in six schemes with an annual outlay of .`72,000 crore – a pan India roll out is expected to be implemented by January 2018.
According to government figures, the central and state government transfers and subsidies are close to 4% of the country’s GDP and digitizing them will ensure transactions are organic and sustained. “To improve overall public service delivery, we want to leverage technology and ensure right benefit reaches the right beneficiary at the right benefit at the right time. The attempt is to transform the service delivery landscape along with the financial sector from being overly cash reliant to less cash dependent,” an official said.
Launch in January 2013, DBT in 2015 was brought in to cover all central and state schemes and expanded in March 2016 to include “inkind” transfers to individual beneficiaries and afew Aadhaar-based services and smaller schemes to do with internships and training. DBT now covers major schemes that involve cash trasnfers such as Pahal, NREGS, pensions-,scholarships, as well as in-kind transfers such as food grains and mid-day meals to children.
What the centre has done in the past one year is mainly set up DBT cells in central ministries and ask States to identify DBT applicable State schemes, officials said, adding that the use of DBT by every State is being monitored by the centre. “The overall cost of accessing public services is being brought down by eliminating middlemen, agents, and use of Aadhaar is helping to accurately identify the rightful beneficiaries. At present, 880 banks are involved in implementing DBT which includes apart from public sector banks, local areas banks and cooperative banks,” the official said.