Resource Digest - - NEWS -

The gov­ern­ment could save Rs 21,672 crore of liq­ue­fied petroleum gas (LPG) sub­sidy outgo in the past two fi­nan­cial years (2014-15 and 2015-16), thanks to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Di­rect Ben­e­fit Trans­fer in LPG (DBTL) scheme that elim­i­nated ghost or du­pli­cate con­nec­tions.

The scheme, un­der which cook­ing gas sub­sidy is trans­ferred di­rectly into the bank ac­counts of ben­e­fi­cia­ries to cut down leak­ages, was rolled out in Novem­ber 2014. “If DBTL was not there, the gov­ern­ment would have had to spend around Rs 15,000 crore more in 2014-15,” Petroleum Min­is­ter Dhar­men­dra Prad­han said, at a sem­i­nar on en­ergy sub­si­dies here on Wed­nes­day.

Oil min­istry’s joint sec­re­tary Ashutosh Jin­dal, who was also present on the oc­ca­sion, said the sav­ings, thanks to DBTL, stood at Rs 7,000 crore in FY16, com­pared with Rs 14,672 crore in the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year, due to a slump in crude oil prices.

Ac­cord­ing to the oil min­istry, In­dia had 181.9 mil­lion reg­is­tered LPG con­sumers as on April 1, 2015. These in­cluded 148.5 mil­lion ac­tive con­sumers, im­ply­ing a gap of 33.4 mil­lion du­pli­cate, fake or in­ac­tive con­sumers. Elim­i­nat­ing these unclaimed 33.4 mil­lion con­sumers helped save Rs 14,672 crore in 2014-15, Prad­han said.

“An av­er­age per cylin­der sub­sidy of Rs 366 was con­sid­ered for 2014-15. Tak­ing into ac­count the quota of 12 cylin­ders per con­sumer, the es­ti­mated sav­ings in LPG sub­sidy due to the block­ing of 33.4 mil­lion ac­counts work out to Rs 14,672 crore,” he added.

Oil mar­ket­ing com­pa­nies’ to­tal LPG un­der-re­cov­er­ies came down from Rs 36,500 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 16,000 crore in 2015-16. Prad­han said the 60 per cent re­duc­tion in the sub­sidy was on ac­count of the de­cline in crude oil prices and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of DBTL. Also, the sub­sidy pay­out on kerosene de­clined from Rs 24,799 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 11,500 crore in 2015-16. The gov­ern­ment has in­creased the ac­tive con­sumer base of LPG by 37 mil­lion in the past two years, against 130 mil­lion in the first 60 years since In­de­pen­dence.

The min­is­ter clar­i­fied that the ben­e­fi­cia­ries for the just­launched Ujjwalay­o­jana were iden­ti­fied based on four data sets — the So­cio-eco­nomic Caste Cen­sus, bank ac­counts, Aad­haar num­bers and the list of con­sumers af­ter the de-du­pli­ca­tion drive.

The gov­ern­ment plans to ap­point 10,000 new LPG dis­trib­u­tors, in­clud­ing 2,000 in the next four years, to meet the ris­ing de­mand for the cook­ing fuel aris­ing out of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Ujjwalay­o­jana, un­der which 50 mil­lion new con­nec­tions will be al­lot­ted to poor house­holds in three years.

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