Prime Minister’s remarks at the meeting of the National Committee on Direct Benefit Transfers
We have come some distance since Direct Benefits Transfer programme was rolled out in January. In this period, we have resolved a number of operational issues. I am encouraged by this progress and hopeful about the future. But we have also run into difficulties that we had not anticipated when we began the programme. We must therefore renew our efforts for successful implementation of the programme.
Conceptually, Direct Benefits Transfers involves a few simple steps- digitising data, enrolling in Aadhaar, opening bank accounts and seeding these accounts. However, Direct Benefits Transfers also require process re-engineering. We need to change the way we transact business, the way we release funds, the way we track funds and the information we have on beneficiaries. I hope due attention will be paid to these aspects as we move forward in implementing the programme.
I have been told that the exercise of implementing Direct Benefits Transfers has revealed the unsatisfactory nature of tracking and monitoring systems we have in various departments. If we need to ensure that the money we spend delivers outcomes, it is necessary that we have a robust monitoring system in place. That is one of the things that Direct Benefits Transfers will achieve, in addition to making the process of getting benefits simpler for the beneficiaries and eliminating corruption and wastage.
I am happy that we are expanding the program to 78 more districts. With this, we will cover over 120 districts which is roughly one-fifth of the country. I am also happy that we will be including the three pension schemes of Rural Development under the programme.
I would urge all Departments to apply themselves with commitment to this major initiative. The Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry have a special responsibility of working together for the achievement of the objectives that we have set for ourselves. On the financial inclusion side, the banking system needs to integrate the post office system which is widespread. It also needs to ensure that the front end infrastructure is in place, so that people have no trouble opening bank accounts and have easy access to their cash. There should be a system in place where people can get a simple bank account on demand if they have an Aadhaar card. Such a spread of financial inclusion will have many other benefits, far beyond cash transfers alone. For bankers, this is an investment in their bank`s own future growth.
It must also be ensured that the coverage of Aadhaar is adequate and no one is left out. Aadhaar should be available on demand.
This is a program in which the implementation capacity of our government will be tested. We cannot afford to fail. We need to show that we can deliver results and benefits. I wish you all success in your endeavours to implement this ambitious programme.