The government is using electoral rolls to open bank accounts in the 51 districts chosen for the roll-out of the direct cash transfer of subsidies.
“Banks have been given electoral rolls in rural areas and they have to ensure that per family at least one account is opened,” a senior bank official said.
Public sector banks have been asked to open the bank accounts by December 15. The accounts would be used to transfer cash subsidies directly to beneficiaries.
The accounts were to be opened using Aadhaar cards, on which the much touted subsidy transfer scheme is based. But the government seems to prefer voter identification cards. The government had claimed that the 51 districts were chosen for the scheme based on at least 80 per cent coverage of issue of Aadhaar cards.
For banks, the challenge is dealing with the shortage of business correspondents (BC) in rural areas. The BC model is yet to be stabilised, the banker said, and the cash transfer scheme was based on that model. Efforts were on, he added.
The chairman of a public sector bank said: “Getting BCs is not very difficult but the rate of attrition is very high, due to availability of better job avenues.”
Poor mobile connectivity and communications are also major problems that hamper the banks’ work in rural areas.
The government is pushing the banks hard to have all infrastructure in place for the roll-out of the scheme before December 15.
The chairman said banks were ready with the technology infrastructure and testings are on. “We hope that everything would be in the place before the D-Day.”
Yesterday, K V Kamath, non-executive chairman of ICICI Bank and chairman of Infosys, said: “The scheme will change the budgetary process in the country, it will change our deficit process and it will make a huge lot of good, as money goes into the hands of people. There will definitely be hiccups in the initial days of the implementation of the scheme.”
He expressed confidence that the banks had the necessary systems and support to make it a success, a view public sector bankers also supported.