Diwali gift for govt employees and pensioners: Cabinet hikes DA by 5%

In a Diwali bonanza, the government on Wednesday took steps to provide more money in the hands of its employees and farmers by hiking dearness allowance (DA) by five percentage points and relaxing norms on Aadhaar seeding for the Prime Minister’s flagship scheme for farmers till November 30. 

The Cabinet increased DA from 12 per cent to 17 per cent of basic pay and pension for its five million employees and 6.5 million pensioners. 

The hike, to be effective from July 1, 2019, would hit the exchequer by an additional Rs 15,909.35 crore annually and Rs 10,606.20 crore in the current financial year. 

The increase is in accordance with the accepted formula based on recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission.

On PM-KISAN, which gives Rs 2,000 to a farmer in four months, the government eased norms for seeding of Aadhaar card that may provide around Rs 10,000 crore to farmers in the next few months.

Under the scheme, a farmer gets Rs 2,000 in four months. The sum is calculated on the basis of the first installment distributed so far to around 67.6 million beneficiaries, amounting to Rs 13,500 crore and those who have become eligible for the third installment.

The existing operational guidelines stated that all disbursements under the scheme post-August 1,2019 should 
only be on the basis of Aadhar-seeded data. 

This not only held up disbursement of the third installment and pending second installment, but also delayed fresh addition of beneficiaries into the scheme.

Latest official data shows that till September 20, around 36.1 million transactions got rejected in the third phase, mainly due to difficulties in getting demographic Aadhar authentication under PM-KISAN.

Wednesday’s relaxation, officials said, would not only speed up disbursement of third installment of Rs 2,000 per farmer to existing PM-KISAN beneficiaries but also enlarge the enrollments.

Data sourced from PM-KISAN website shows that till October 10, out of the total registered 73.9 million registered beneficiaries, around 67.6 million have received the first installment of Rs 2,000, while 51.4 million got the second installment of an equal amount. 
About 17.4 million took the third installment of the same amount. 

Under the PM-KISAN scheme, the government is providing annually Rs 6,000 in three equal installments to 140 million farmers. The amount is being directly transferred to bank accounts of the beneficiaries through the direct benefit transfer (DBT) mode.

Javadekar said extension of the date will help farmers buy crop inputs for the forthcoming rabi sowing season.

Since farmers are still gearing up for the rabi (winter) season, they are in dire need of money to take care of various farming activities like procurement of seeds, preparation of soil and other activities like irrigation, maintenance and mobilisation of machinery and tools.

Besides these pressing needs, the just-started festive season will put further stress on the financial condition of the poor farmers’ households in the country.

“Non-seeding of beneficiary details with Aadhaar number will delay the release of further installments and cause discontentment among farmers. Therefore, the mandatory requirement of Aadhaar seeding has been relaxed,” an official statement said. 

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