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In a move that could speed up the ambitious direct cash transfer programme, rural development minister Jaiarm Ramesh has suggested other entities such as state governments and banks should be roped in to enroll residents in the Aadhaar system.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ramesh said the direct benefits transfers (DBT) scheme would be successful if multiple registrars are allowed to enroll beneficiaries in the Aadhaar system.

The direct cash transfer scheme is not a “jaadu ki chhadi” (magic wand) to reform a “broken down” delivery system and problems are there in its implementation, Union minister Jairam Ramesh said on Sunday.

“It (Direct Benefits Transfer Scheme) is not a single ‘jaadu ki chhadi’ (magic wand). It is an experiment. The world's largest experiment in administrative reforms,” he told reporters.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday kicked off the customary pre-Budget consultations. In a meeting with the finance minister, agriculturalists shared concerns on the government’s widening fiscal deficit. They also suggested direct cash transfer of fertiliser and food subsidies, which they claimed would save the government Rs 70,000-85,000 crore directly.

To protect the interests of farmers, they also urged the finance minister and his team to set up a regulator on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail segment.

Several districts are lagging in Aadhaar cards and Aadhaar-linked bank accounts

Tuesday was the kick-off of the Union government’s Direct Benefits Transfer scheme and early reports show that despite scaling down the number of districts and schemes to be covered, much work still needs to be done to make the programme a success in the 20 districts in six States. Symbolic events marked the day and functions were organised. But many of the districts are still lagging in the basic requirements of the programme — Aadhaar card coverage and Aadhaar-linked bank accounts.

The recent commodity boom has seriously affected South Asia, particularly due to higher food prices and their impact on the welfare of poor and vulnerable populations.

Direct cash transfers may curb migration among those who need to be at their native place to benefit from cash transfer

The country’s poor are bracing for what is dubbed as a potential game changer in the delivery of development. To monetise its support for the poor, the government has announced direct cash transfer of subsidies to the bank accounts of beneficiaries. To start with, the government will implement the system in 51 districts and extend it to the rest of the country by the end of 2013.

Chhattisgarh will bear an additional subsidy of Rs. 2,300 crore

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh does not favour proposed cash transfer for food and will not implement the scheme in his State.

“Food security means taking food to people’s doorstep,” he told journalists here on Saturday. The Chief Minister said that while cash transfer may be okay for fertilisers and other welfare schemes, it was not required as a substitute for grains. “If you give Rs. 600 in the hands of a poor person without a proper banking system, banks being far-flung and fluctuations in food prices, the idea will not work.”

Adding fuel to fire, people haven’t received subsidy

Mahipal Singh Yadav (31) is a contractual junior manager at the Kotkasim Gram Sewa Sahakari Samiti. Joining the cooperative, he had hoped, would be like any other job. However, since the direct cash transfer of kerosene subsidies scheme was piloted here, Mr. Yadav has found himself at the receiving end of people’s anger. The KGSSS operates five fair price shops (FPS) in the Kotkasim block. As the scheme came into effect, kerosene prices were hiked to Rs. 45 and then to Rs. 50 a litre from Rs. 15.

After announcing the direct cash transfer rollout from January 1, the focus has come back on the Food Security Bill, for which the UPA government is looking at the Budget Session for passage. The parliamentary standing committee is learnt to have given its report to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.

Along with direct cash transfer, the UPA is banking on the Food and Land Bills to yield the Congress rich dividends. “The standing committee report could be tabled in the Lok Sabha this week. The government will (then) move to the Cabinet with its final draft,” a senior official said.

India economy is expected to grow by about 5.5 per cent this year, according to initial estimates by the World Bank. It means the multilateral agency expects the economy to grow by more than 5.5 per cent in the October-December quarter.

The Bank might also peg India’s GDP to grow by a little less than six per cent next year and seven per cent in 2014 and 2015. Kaushik Basu, senior vice-president & chief economist at the World Bank (he was India’s chief economic advisor till a few months earlier), today told a press conference on the sidelines of an economic conclave that the multilateral institution was likely to peg India’s growth at 5.5 per cent in 2012.

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