Herald: Is the government in the dole-drums?
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Is the government in the dole-drums?

09 Jul 2017 05:49am IST

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09 Jul 2017 05:49am IST

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Ever since the party came to power with a thumping win in 2012, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be on a virtual spending-spree, especially in terms of social security schemes, doling out thousands of crores from the coffers. Despite political hiccups earlier this year, in spite of the schemes firmly in place, the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is reviewing the doles, or so it seems! SURAJ NANDREKAR looks at why this was forced

Prior to the Goa Legislative Elections, the BJP seemed to be going ga-ga over the schemes its government had presented for the common man and were of the opinion that the schemes alone would be enough to pilot home the party to the magical figure of 21.

Ironically, that’s where the miscalculations seemed to have occurred, which resulted in offering the party a grim picture of snaring merely 13 out of 40 seats.

Earlier, in 2012, cashing in on rampant corruption in the Congress-led tenure, a surprise package containing a number of doles promised during the election campaign gave BJP a sweeping victory in the State assembly elections.

The BJP had doubled the financial assistance under the Dayanand Social Security Scheme (DSSS) by raising it to Rs 2,000 per month and an additional allowance of Rs 500 for chronic diseases; introducing Ladli Laxmi for unmarried girls between 18 and 40 years of age to avail Rs 1 lakh towards marriage expenses and Rs 1,200 per month to women under the Griha Aadhar scheme to fight inflation.

The Parsekar government further increased the allowance to Rs 1500 a month and towards the fag-end of his term and went on to introduced the Goa Yuva Samwad Yojana (GYSY).

The GYSY, that provided free calling of up to 100 minutes and internet data usage of up to 3 GB for youth in the age group of 16-30 years, appeared to be an instant hit, with 3.2 lakh people availing of the benefit.

What was initially touted as a three-year scheme, extending till December 2019, was abruptly pullout out; as it appeared that the scheme itself could not help the BJP consolidate their position in 2017.

 Parrikar’s Review

As soon as the BJP came back to power, its alliance partners - Goa Forward, MGP and independents have asked the chief minister to tighten the noose on excessive spending, with a special focus on limiting and even curbing the schemes.

The State, which is already reeling under the debt of nearly Rs 12,000 cr, with no notable income after the mining ban, spends over Rs 500 cr annually on doles for just two schemes –  the DSSS and Griha Aadhar of which Rs 243 cr on DSSS scheme and Rs 271 cr on Griha Aadhar.

Incidentally, the first scheme that came under the government scanner was the GYSY that provided free talk-time and data to the youth.

Even the Minister for Information Technology Rohan Khaunte was of the firm opinion that it was a needless expenditure.

“The government has been receiving a lot of complaints from parents during the past two months that the scheme has been misused by the students. There was also no track of students getting the benefit like IT and Digital India concept under the scheme,” he emphasised.

“Hence, the government had decided to discontinue the scheme and to initiate a new scheme, with a priority for digital literacy in rural areas,” the minister revealed.

Rohan also informed that the government was supposed to spend Rs 24 crore annually on the scheme, and even today it was paying for the entire 55,000 card holders to Vodafone. “The State is facing a loss. We don’t see that spending Rs 24 crore was justifiable,” he added.

Interestingly, within days after the GYSY was stalled, the government also announced the review of Griha Aadhar Yojana, which gives Rs 1500 per month  dole to housewives.

While a gradual fading of the scheme is imminent, the government also announced that no new forms for Griha Aadhar Scheme would be processed or sanctioned.

The chief minister’s remark that the scheme too was up for review seems a clear indication that it too would meet a similar fate as that of GYSY.

CM’s speak

It now appears vividly that bearing the burgeoning financial burden in mind the State government would not hesitate to review other schemes as well.

And so it will now review all cases that were sanctioned under various social welfare schemes like Griha Adhar, Dayanand Social Security Scheme (DSSS) and Ladli Laxmi from September this year.

“We are taking review of all social welfare schemes, and from September there will be review of all cases which have been sanctioned so far,” Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told media persons on Tuesday while promptly clarifying that as of now no schemes have been stopped.

Speaking about the Griha Aadhar scheme which is temporarily suspended for review, Parrikar said that the scheme has reached its upper cap of 1.52 lakh beneficiaries and hence the government has stopped accepting new applications, while acknowledging that financial assistance to the existing beneficiaries would continue.

“We have not stopped Griha Adhar but 1.52 lakh is the upper limit cap. Those whose financial resources are more than Rs 3 lakh per annum may still be availing benefit under the scheme,” he said informing that all the cases sanctioned need to be reviewed to delete those who have crossed the financial limit.

“Post review, we will sanction new applications,” Parrikar underlined, clarifying that the family that avails the benefit of DSSS would not be entitled for Griha Aadhar scheme.

On the Ladli Laxmi front, Parrikar said that the money was not released due to the election code of conduct, which was in force due to the panchayat polls. “The State election commission had asked us not to disburse the amount and thus we could not do anything,” he said.

We have now released the money and there is already Rs 25 crore deposited in the bank. Once that is exhausted, we will release more funds, Parrikar pointed out.

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