CM opposes Centre’s Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme

Voicing her opposition to the Centre’s Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme on “three sound grounds,” Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday suggested an alternative by which the Union government can route funds through the State government.

This should be done considering that Tamil Nadu is “progressively switching” over to the bank mode of disbursement for all beneficiary-oriented schemes, Ms. Jayalalithaa said in her speech during finalisation of the 2013-14 annual plan for the State. She was addressing the meeting in New Delhi with Deputy Chairman of the Union Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Terming it a win-win proposal if the Centre wanted to ensure efficient delivery of the benefits, she said the implementation could also be monitored more rigorously as the data would be seamlessly available for scrutiny.

Contending that Tamil Nadu was not opposed to DBT per se, she said the State “opposed any move to monetise and transfer in cash the subsidy element of foodgrains and kerosene under the public distribution system and supply of fertilizers and other inputs to farmers.”

It was not just the quantum of subsidy but the access to and timely availability of commodities that were critical concerns.

Another ground of opposition was the “executive overreach” by the Centre and the “attempt to insidiously bypass the State governments” through the DBT scheme.

The Union Planning Commission had issued a series of instructions and guidelines on issues relating to DBT scheme.

There had been virtually no consultation with the State governments, who, however, were expected to place their field machinery at the disposal of the Centre. The third ground of opposition is the Centre and the State share the costs already for many of the 25 schemes identified for DBT roll-out.

“A clear demarcation of Central and State shares beneficiary-wise is not possible,” resulting, in all such cases, duplication of efforts and waste of resources, Ms.Jayalalithaa said.

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