Our cash-for-PDS report is “the cautionary tale”, it says
GN Bureau | February 11, 2017
The direct benefits transfer (DBT) was supposed to be the original ‘game-changer’ – in the words of the then finance minister P Chidambaram when it was announced in late 2012. DBT was among the handful of the UPA initiatives that Narendra Modi wholeheartedly pushed forward. But the key piece of the scheme – replacing food grain and other stuff distributed through PDS by equivalent cash – is yet to take off.
The pilot project of ‘cash-for-PDS’ in three union territories of Chandigarh, Puducherry and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, launched in 2015, is now a cautionary tale, says the Economic Survey, 2017. It says, “The pilot exercises of DBT in lieu of PDS – not exactly a UBI – in Chandigarh and Pondicherry offer a cautionary tale. ... Despite some evidence on reduced leakages, independent evaluations emphasize the need for an improved digital financial infrastructure, even in these relatively urban settings.”
And the independent evaluations quoted include the Governance Now cover story of the March 16-31, 2016 edition.
Meanwhile, a study conducted by the Niti Aayog also paints a dismal picture of its progress, according to a Business Standard report.
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Should public sector banks be privatised?