The proposal is to divide the country into 20 clusters and have one firm each that acts as conduit for the final handing over the cash from banks to beneficiaries. But advisors have been cautioned that this could lead to monopoly control over UPA’s `game-changer’ scheme by certain companies, triggering scams. They have warned that the initial rollout of this model, where companies bid for much less than 2% fee for delivery of funds to beneficiaries, has already lent the whiff of a potential scam. For instance, the bids have been ridiculously low in some cases.
The rural development ministry and the UID Authority of India(UIDAI) have advocated against this approach but different government functionaries have made conflicting statements about a resolution to the row.
D K Mittal, secretary in the department of financial services ( ministry of finance), told TOI, “We will monitor the rollout and if any problems are noted they will be addressed immediately.”
He added that the department was geared to ensure that the banking correspondent model takes off in the 51 districts where the scheme is to be launched as a pilot. In these districts where the company is yet to take over the cluster, the banks have been asked to move in first, and the firm that gets the cluster through bidding would take over later, he explained.
Another concern that is plaguing the initiative is whether to trust NPR as a platform for timely electronic registration of the population in some states instead of UID. Government functionaries have warned that progress of NPR’s work is rather tardy in some states like UP, Bihar and Odisha. The volatile issue, which earlier too had attracted high-voltage sparks between UIDAIchief Nandan Nilekani and then home minister Chidambaram, has now been left to the PMO to resolve.