The government seems set to make the Aadhaar number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India the primary identification number for all citizens of the country for not just delivery of services and benefits but also to keep track of financial transactions of each individual and curb tax evasion.

This is apparent from the various measures that the government has taken so far or had proposed much before it moved an amendment to the Finance Bill to make quoting of Aadhaar number mandatory for filing tax returns and applying for new permanent account number.

To phase out PAN?

At this stage, there is no indication whether the government will propose to phase out the PAN altogether in the long term.

In his 2017-18 Budget speech on February 1, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that steps would be taken to link individual demat accounts with Aadhaar.

He had also stated that Aadhaar-based smart cards with health details would be introduced for senior citizens. A beginning was to be made with a pilot in 15 districts during 2017-18.

The government has also said that it would encourage banks to introduce 20 lakh Aadhaar-based point-of-sale (POS) terminals by September 2017, as part of the Aadhaar-enabled payment system.

In this effort, the rollout of Aadhaar Pay, an alternative to card-based payment and mobile wallets, has already begun.

The government has also been nudging banks to seed all accounts with the Aadhaar number as part of the KYC (know your customer) requirement.

In his 2015-16 Budget speech, the Finance Minister had said that a social security platform would be developed using Aadhaar to accurately target beneficiaries.

Such platform would help the government plug leakages and misappropriation of subsidies.

Aadhaar is already being used to transfer a lot of benefits not just to adults but also to children enrolled in schools.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had allowed the government plea to verify identity for mobile telephone numbers with users’ Aadhaar numbers.

This was done to weed out fake users as well as make mobile phones more secure for the payment system.

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