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Govt plans on-demand bank accounts for Aadhaar-holders

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Expanding reach: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a meeting of the National Committee on Direct Benefits Transfer in the Capital on Friday. – PTI
PTI Expanding reach: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a meeting of the National Committee on Direct Benefits Transfer in the Capital on Friday. – PTI

Banks may soon provide a simple account on-demand to people with Aadhaar numbers. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also in favour of Aadhaar numbers being available on demand.

These issues were discussed in the meeting of National Committee on Direct Benefit Transfers, chaired by the Prime Minister, here on Friday.

The meeting decided to expand the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to 78 more districts and to include three more schemes in the next phase, starting July 1. With this, over 120 districts or nearly one-fifth of the total population will be under DBT.

Addressing the meeting, Singh said, “There should be a system in place where people can get a simple bank account on demand if they have an Aadhaar card. Such a spread of financial inclusion will have many other benefits, far beyond cash transfers alone. For bankers, this is an investment in their bank’s own future growth.”

He said the banking system needed to integrate with the post office system, which is widespread. Banks also need to ensure that the front-end infrastructure is in place so that people have no trouble in opening accounts and have easy access to their cash.

Terming DBT as a tool to test the implementation capacity of the Government, Singh said, “We cannot afford to fail. We need to show that we can deliver results and benefits.” He also emphasised proper monitoring.

“If we need to ensure that the money we spend delivers outcomes, it is necessary that we have a robust monitoring system in place. That is one of the things that DBT will achieve, in addition to making the process of getting benefits simpler for the beneficiaries and eliminating corruption and wastage,” he added.

The DBT programme began on January 1 in a truncated manner with seven schemes in 20 districts. By March 1, this programme was in place for total of 26 schemes and 43 districts.

Talking about experience till date, the Prime Minister said, “I am encouraged by this progress and hopeful about the future. But we have also run into difficulties that we had not anticipated when we began the programme. We must therefore renew our efforts for successful implementation of the programme.”

shishir.sinha@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 5, 2013)
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