With LPG set to be included in the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) subsidy scheme, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has written to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas asking it to expedite preparations for the roll out in 20 districts from May 15.

The Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterji has written to Petroleum and Natural Gas Secretary Vivek Rae underlining the need for ensuring that consumer database with marketing companies and bank accounts is seeded with Aadhaar numbers.

The financial transactions will have to be managed by the three oil marketing companies (OMCs) -- IOC, HPCL and BPCL -- without having to deal with intermediate agencies, Mr. Chatterji wrote, adding “this is a good base to begin from.” The letter recalls the decision of the National Committee on DBT, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on April 5 to roll out the transfer of LPG subsidy through DBT in 20 districts with effect from May 15, 2013.

The roll out is to take place in other districts after crossing a certain threshold in Aadhaar enrolment in each district.

“I am writing to you to highlight the importance of expediting the steps that need to be taken by your Ministry to ensure the timely roll out,” Mr. Chatterji told Mr. Rae.

“The numbers involved and the money to be transacted are much larger than in any other scheme under DBT so far. I am confident that with dedication and effort, Ministry of P&NG and the OMCs will be able to roll out the transfer of LPG subsidy through DBT successfully on May 15, 2013,” he said.

He said the Ministry would need to move a note to the Cabinet and obtain whatever approvals are necessary for the roll out.

Mr. Chatterji said as far as LPG subsidy is concerned, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is starting from the “fortuitous position” of having a more or less complete digitised database of consumers.

“The main challenge is ensuring that the consumer database with OMCs and the bank accounts of consumers are seeded with Aadhaar numbers,” the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary wrote.

He noted that Aadhaar enrolment in the 43 districts, where DBT was rolled out in January in the first phase, was quite high.

“I learn that Aadhaar seeding in OMC databases has risen considerably in the last four months,” he said, adding the oil marketing companies should make concerted efforts to ensure that seeding rates improve further in the remaining time.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas will need to coordinate with the Department of Financial Services and the banks to ensure that the seeding in customer bank accounts also improves, Mr. Chatterji said, adding a dedicated team in the Ministry for this effort would help.

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