SME Times News Bureau | 17 Jan, 2020
Deputy Chairman of the now-defunct Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia on
Monday said that many welfare schemes of the government needed to be reviewed
to assess their reach and efficacy.
"We need to review many welfare schemes we have put in place supposedly to
help the poor, but which don't have the effect that they should,"
Be it the earlier United Progressive Alliance or the present National
Democratic Alliance, all governments and all political parties of significance
go gaga over the welfare schemes but their extent needs to be determined, he
Asked for specifics, he said: "Today, to say that two third of the Indian
population be covered by providing, maybe, half of their food grain needs every
month... or less than half, at less than 10 per cent of the market price, just
doesn't make any sense."
So what's the solution? "I mean, we have suggested in many documents that
our country has moved to the cash-transfer system. You identify the poor, give
them some cash to help them buy whatever they need," he explained.
He said that "massively subsidising" food grains while "not
subsidising" milk or vegetables, as was prevalent, created distortion in
the pattern of consumption.
In his book "Backstage: The Story behind India's High Growth Years",
Ahluwalia questioned the stock of food grains maintained by the Centre and its
alleged refusal to part with some to ease inflation.
He said that he stood by whatever he had written in his book, adding that stockpiling
of food grains in the NDA era is "far more".
As for the Indian economy's slowdown, the former top policy-maker said that the
first thing the Finance Ministry under the stewardship of Nirmala Sitharaman
should do is to acknowledge that there's a problem.
He pointed to the 5-trillion-dollar economy, doubling of farmers income, and
other "impractical" goals of the government in the current economic
scheme of things.
The government should "go beyond declaration of intent" and act,