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India: Govt Justifies Cash Transfer Announcement Before Polls
Source: news.outlookindia.com
Source Date: Monday, December 03, 2012
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: India
Created: Dec 04, 2012

Government today justified the announcement of its direct cash transfer scheme saying it does not constitute violation of the model code of conduct and does not contain anything new that was not in this year's Budget.

In a communication to Election Commission, which had expressed unhappiness over last week's announcement and sought an explanation, the government said the Finance Minister's Budget Speech in March this year had outlined the success of several pilots across a number of states relating to the Aadhar-based service delivery mechanism.

This only clearly established that the Scheme had already been partially operationalised even prior to March 2012, the government contended.

The BJP had objected to the government announcement and had petitioned the poll authority to set aside the scheme.

"The present proposal to extend the pilots to 51 districts across India is the logical next step towards the implementation of this methodology of transferring benefits to at least 50 districts.

"This is meant to ensure that the final roll out of Direct Cash Transfers is seamless and smooth. Thus, the proposed pilot in 51 districts is not a new scheme but an extension of the pilot already in place," the communication from the Planning Commission said.

It said that recommendations of the Task Force headed by Nandan Nilekani on IT strategy for Direct Transfer of Subsidy were made way back in February 2012.

These recommendations were accepted by the Government in March 2012, and were also announced by the Finance Minister in his Budget Speech.

"In view of all (the) above, it is stated that the announcement being objected to does not constitute a violation of the Model Code of Conduct," the Planning Commission letter said.

The government said no announcement of any financial grant or a new promise in the nature of a financial benefit has been announced after the coming into force of the Model Code of Conduct on October three.

It said that no eligible beneficiary will receive any additional entitlement than he/she was already entitled to under identified Schemes.

"There is no increase in the number of beneficiaries under the various schemes of the Central Government where direct cash transfers are proposed to be introduced," the government said.

It said the scheme was to be introduced from January one for more efficient delivery of benefits under the ongoing programmes by which time the election process will be completed.

"Accordingly, the announcement made by the Government is not in breach of para VII of the Model Code of Conduct," he said.

The Direct Cash Transfers based on Aadhar-enabled payments were integral to the unique identity number scheme as conceptualized in 2010.

It was envisaged that Aadhar platform will be made use of in the various existing schemes of the government to reach the benefits to eligible beneficiaries more efficiently.

"The announcements in question are only in the nature of the logical next steps in the on-going efforts of the government to ensure better targeting of beneficiaries under various existing schemes of the central government," it said.

"It may be seen from the Press statement appended to the above reference that the announcements by the Ministers concerned which are being objected to were by way of clarifying the government policy and the perceived impact of this delivery mechanism," the government said.
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