New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made it clear that direct transfer payments is going to be the rule in future with tremendous success in targeting the beneficiaries without the problem of any leakages.
Delivering the keynote address at the conference on ‘Digital Payments: Inclusion, Growth and Opportunities’ organised by Observer Research Foundation in association with Better Than Cash Alliance in Delhi on Saturday.
Explaining the benefits of the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) which is helping the government to target the needy better, Jaitley said, “I am sure this going to be the rule in future.”
Jaitley said now with the apprehensions some people earlier had on direct payments been adequately addressed, “the system will be enough to take care of these”.
He pointed out though the discourses on Unique Identity (UID) and DBT began and continued parallel, now it has got converged.
The minister said the DBT has helped the government to pay subsidies and other benefits directly to the identified needy, helping it to plug leakages and end corruption and fraudulent means in financial benefits disbursement.
He said he has no doubt that DBTs are essential for rationalisation, better targeting and effective implementation of the subsidies and other benefits.
With the success in the DBT now, the government is planning to expand the mission to other areas as well as the government has effectively implemented JAM, Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) trinity through the powerful Digital India, Jaitley said.
He noted that over 240 million people had opened accounts following the Jan Dhan programme launch within a couple of weeks, if not days.
He strongly refuted the criticism that majority of the accounts opened through the programme is dormant. When he was asked about this criticism, the Finance Minster confidently said “it is not correct”. He said more than 80 percent of the accounts are working well.
“Some may be dormant now, like few in tribal areas. But with the government planning to make use of DBT more, these accounts will become active,” he pointed.
Later NITI Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant said the government is trying its best to make doing business in India simpler and simpler. He said the government is conscious of the fact that if the global supply chain needs to shift to India, it has to open up its economy, and the Modi government has taken several steps towards it.
He said this has resulted in 53 percent jump in FDI in India while the world over it registered 16 percent decline.
Kant said tech is going to be the differentiator in the future between countries, and for that digital transactions and cashless society play a very important role.
He expected India to move to a cashless society by 2023. “Cash is dead. Digital payment is the future,” Kant declared as he said some barriers to digital payments in rural India like regional language gateways need to be fixed.
Talking of the great future of India, Kant also expected the country’s e-commerce, which is now at 20 billion, to leapjump to 250-280 million.
During the conference, Catalyst, the inclusive cashless payment partnership, between the government of India and the USAID with the aim of helping the underprivileged, was also launched.
The conference had sessions on ‘Realising the Digital Payments Potential of India’, ‘Digital Federalism – How States are Leading the Transformation’ and ‘Creating the Digital Last Mile’ in which senior officials of the government of India, State governments, private players and academia participated.
The objective of the conference brought together high-level decision makes, private sector players and civil society to debate and deliver solutions to accelerate digital inclusion, digital businesses and digital growth. They discussed why digital payments are a key driver for financial inclusion and a digital economy and the necessary strategic considerations to move away from cash to digital payments. The government, private practitioners and experts showcased India’s capability to be global leader in this field.
The government has identified digital gateways that hold transformative potential for the country. The Digital India Initiative with JAM and Less Cash India, are today the centre-piece of India’s development and inclusive growth efforts.
Over a billion mobile connections, quarter of a billion bank accounts (Jan-Dhan) and a digital identity database (Aadhaar) of a billion strong are catalysing this strong policy push.