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Fact Checking Government claims on Direct Benefit Transfer

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The BJP government has made two claims on Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in an infographic published on the 48-months portal. This article is a fact check of these claims.

The BJP government has made two claims on Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in an infographic published on the 48-months portal. This article is a fact check of these claims.

What is PAHAL?
The annual report (2017-18) of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) states that ‘Government of India has launched Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG consumer (DBTL) scheme namely, PAHAL, in 54 districts of the country in November 2014 and as of January 2018, 19.43 Crore LPG consumers have joined the scheme. The scheme aims to rationalise subsidies based on approach to cut subsidy leakages, but not subsidies themselves. LPG consumers who join the PAHAL scheme, will get the LPG cylinders at non-subsidised price and receive LPG subsidy (as per their entitlement) directly into their bank accounts’.

In a previous annual report  (2014-15) of the MoPNG, it is stated that ‘in compliance with the vision 2015 and to spread LPG distribution network in rural areas and uncovered areas, Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG Vitaran Yojana (RGGLVY) for establishing small size LPG distribution agencies was launched in October 2009. As on 31st December 2014, 4058 Nos. of RGGLVs have been commissioned by OMCs’.

Going back even further, the annual report  (2013-14) of the MoPNG states that, ‘effective April 2002, the Government decided to provide subsidy on sale of PDS kerosene and domestic LPG at specified flat rates under the Budget. To administer these budgetary subsidies, the Government formulated two schemes viz. ‘PDS Kerosene and Domestic LPG Subsidy Scheme 2002’ and ‘Freight Subsidy (For Far Flung Areas) Scheme 2002’. Under these schemes it was decided that subsidy on PDS Kerosene and Domestic LPG will be phased out in 3-5 years’.

According to the PAHAL website,  ‘the PAHAL (DBTL) scheme was earlier launched in June 2013 and finally covered 291 districts. It required the consumer to mandatorily have an Aadhaar number for availing LPG Subsidy. The government has comprehensively reviewed the scheme and after examining the difficulties faced by the consumer substantively modified the scheme prior to launch in 2014. The modified scheme has been re-launched in 54 districts in November 2014 in the 1st Phase and rest of the country in January 2015’.

It is thus, important to note that the scheme in its present form was launched in 2014 but LPG subsidy has existed long before that. It can also be understood that the DBT for LPG consumers (DBTL) was conceived and the pilot launched during the UPA-2.

Is PAHAL the world’s largest cash transfer program?
The first claim is that ‘PAHAL is the world’s largest cash transfer program with over 20.14 crore beneficiaries receiving 69,815 crore rupees’.

An answer in Lok Sabha in December 2018 states that ‘after implementation of PAHAL Scheme, the LPG consumers, who have joined the Scheme, purchase the LPG cylinders at non-subsidised price and receive LPG subsidy (as per their entitlement) directly in their registered bank account. As of December 2018, a total of 23.11 crore consumers have joined the Scheme in the country’.

The annual report (2017-18) of the MoPNG states that, ‘as of December 2017,  more than 19.43 crore LPG consumers have joined the PAHAL Scheme.  So far, more than Rs. 62,630 crore have been transferred into the bank accounts of consumers’. As per a recent answer in the Lok Sabha in February 2019, a total of Rs. 1.03 lakh crore have been transferred under PAHAL to a total of 23.81 crore registered LPG consumers.

The annual report also states that, ‘PAHAL has entered into Guinness book of World record being largest Direct Benefit Transfer scheme’. The website of Guinness World Records also confirms this. 

Claim: PAHAL is the world’s largest cash transfer program with over 20.14 crore beneficiaries receiving 69,815 crore rupees.

Fact: PAHAL has entered the Guinness book of world records for being the largest Direct Benefit Transfer scheme. As per a recent answer in the Lok Sabha in February 2019, a total of Rs. 1.03 lakh crore have been transferred under PAHAL to a total of 23.81 crore registered LPG consumers. Hence, the claim is TRUE. However, it has to be noted that the DBT for LPG consumers (DBTL) was conceived and the pilot was launched during the UPA-2.

Have more than 3 crore rupees directly transferred to beneficiaries?
The second claim is that ‘3,65,996 crore rupees directly transferred into bank account of beneficiaries of 431 schemes’.

A response in Lok Sabha stated that ‘as of 26th December 2018, 434 schemes of 56 Ministries/Departments have been on boarded on the DBT portal. DBT schemes are not limited to the subsidy but also includes others benefits such as scholarships, pension, wages and other social benefits under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes and Central Sector Schemes’.

The same response also shows that a total of 5,63,896.8 crore rupees have been transferred to beneficiaries, out of which 4,88,680.2 crore rupees have been in cash (the rest of the amount has been in kind). Since the response was given after the claim was made, the numbers are higher. Addition of schemes could have also increased the amounts. On the other hand, the DBT portal, states that 6,30,689 Crore rupees have been transferred under the DBT scheme as on 01st March 2019.

Another response in Lok Sabha in April 2013 states that ‘the amount of funds transfer to beneficiaries for the identified schemes under DBT from 1st January to 31st March 2013 through APB was Rs. 22.9 crore and through non-APB was Rs. 57.1 crore’. This only shows that DBT for other schemes was also conceived and piloted during the UPA-2.

Claim: 3,65,996 crore rupees directly transferred into bank account of beneficiaries of 431 schemes.

Fact: As of 26th December 2018, 434 schemes of 56 Ministries/Departments have been on-boarded on the DBT portal. Rs. 4,88,680.2 crores have been transferred under the DBT scheme. Hence, the claim is TRUE. However, DBT for other schemes was also conceived and piloted during the UPA-2. The current government expanded and made it more robust & comprehensive.

This story is part of a larger series on the 4-years of the Modi government. This series has been made possible with the flash grant of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Read the rest of the stories in this series here

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