Terming Aadhaar as a "game changer", Finance Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday said savings made through its implementation can fund three public welfare schemes of the magnitude of Ayushman Bharat -- the ambitious healthcare programme to provide free hospitalisation to millions of poor people.
He also attributed the successful implementation of Aadhaar to the decisive leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the Congress-led UPA remained "half-hearted" towards it because of its own contradictions and indecision.
In a Facebook post titled 'Benefits of the Aadhaar - where it stands today', Jaitley said its use in the delivery of subsidies has helped saved Rs 90,000 crore in the last few years till March 2018 by eliminating several duplicate, non-existent and fake beneficiaries. The Digital Dividend Report prepared by the World Bank estimates that India can save Rs 77,000 crore every year by the use of Aadhaar, he said.
"The savings through Aadhaar can fund three schemes of the size of Ayushman Bharat...Aadhaar is a game changer," Jaitley said.
Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana aims to provide a coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually, benefiting more than 10.74 crore poor families for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation through a network of empanelled healthcare providers.
Since its launch in September, nearly 7 lakh poor patients have been provided free hospital treatment. Jaitley said the UPA, because of its contradictions and indecision, remained half-hearted about Aadhaar.
"Instead of taking credit for it, Congress lawyers challenged it in Court and appeared as the anti-technology, anti-Aadhaar faces. A decisive Prime Minister made it possible," he said.
The total amount of subsidy transferred through Aadhaar now equals Rs 1,69,868 crore.
"With the elimination of middlemen the benefits go directly to the bank accounts. This is a unique technology implemented only in India. The monies saved through Aadhaar is money fruitfully employed for the poor elsewhere," Jaitley said.
Since The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill was passed in 2016, in the last 28 months over 122 crore Aadhaar numbers have been issued. About 99% of the adult population of India above the age of 18 stands covered. He said 22.80 crore PAHAL and Ujjwala beneficiaries are given cooking gas subsidies through direct benefit transfer (DBT) in their Aadhaar-linked bank accounts.
Jaitley said 58.24 crore ration card holders stand linked and 10.33 crore MGNREGA card holders get wage payment through DBT in their bank accounts. So do the 1.93 crore beneficiaries of the national social assistance programme.
The Income Tax Department has already linked 21 crore PAN card holders with their Aadhaar numbers.