Fer­tiliser DBT scheme comes a crop­per

Business Standard - - ECONOMY & PUBLIC AFFAIRS - SANJEEB MUKHER­JEE

One of the ma­jor ob­jec­tives of the Di­rect Ben­e­fit Trans­fer (DBT) scheme for fer­tilis­ers was to ensure timely pay­ment of sub­sidy to com­pa­nies and clear the back­log, apart from plug­ging pil­fer­age and leak­ages in the sys­tem.

Se­nior in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives said while it re­mained to be an­a­lysed to what ex­tent pil­fer­age and leak­age had been checked, timely pay­ment of sub­si­dies had not ma­te­ri­alised so far.

As far as farm­ers' sat­is­fac­tion with the new sys­tem is con­cerned, stud­ies are still be­ing con­ducted, but noth­ing con­crete has emerged.

Un­der the DBT scheme, the sub­sidy for each bag of fer­tiliser sold through a re­tailer has to be cred­ited into bank ac­count of the com­pany con­cerned within a week of the trans­ac­tion be­ing cap­tured in a point of sale (PoS) de­vice through bio­met­ric au­then­ti­ca­tion.

This is not only meant to smoothen the process of sub­sidy dis­bur­sal, but also min­imise hu­man in­ter­face in the sys­tem and pro­mote trans­parency. How­ever, in re­al­ity, com­pa­nies main­tained that this time the scheme had been rarely fol­lowed since March 2018, when the sys­tem was ex­panded to cover most parts of the coun­try.

As a re­sult, around ~73 bil­lion of fer­tiliser sub­sidy, on ac­count of DBT trans­ac­tions, still re­mained to be paid as on Novem­ber 1, this year. Around ~162 bil­lion, on ac­count of nonDBT fer­tiliser sub­sidy, still re­mained un­paid.

In total, around ~235 bil­lion of sub­si­dies, on ac­count of fer­tilis­ers sold, re­mained to be un­paid as on Novem­ber 1.

"As still four-five months are left for the fi­nan­cial year to end, we be­lieve that the total back­log of un­paid sub­si­dies would come around ~300 bil­lion by March 31, 2019, un­less the gov­ern­ment de­cides to re­lease some funds through the sup­ple­men­tary de­mand for grants," K S Raju, chair­man of Fer­tiliser As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia (FAI) said.

He said DBT looked im­pres­sive on pa­per, but un­less gov­ern­ment had sub­stan­tial amount of money in its cof­fers, the sys­tem would not work in favour of the com­pa­nies.

The firms rec­ol­lected that ear­lier sub­sidy bills were gen­er­ated as soon as the stocks moved to the dis­trict re­tail­ers ac­cord­ing to the sup­ply plan. The ini­tial 85-90 per cent pay­ment of sub­sidy (95 per cent in case of urea) was re­leased as "on ac­count pay­ment" on re­ceipt of fer­tilis­ers in the dis­trict.

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