POS machine shortage delaying DBT for fertiliser subsidy

Inadequate supply of Point of Sale (POs) machines is slugging down the central government’s Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) for fertiliser subsidy.

The shortage is troubleshooting the DBT flow as not even half of the total two lakh retail outlets selling fertiliser are receiving the machines.This is delaying the scheduled June 1 rollout of the process.

As per the government sources, three PoS suppliers, who have got contracts, have told the fertiliser ministry there is a huge demand for the machines and they are struggling to meet requirements.

 “We have set a June 30 deadline for supply of an entire lot of PoS devices. They have assured the deadline will be met. We are hopeful of a roll out from next month,” a ministry official said.

“Progress of installation of PoS machines is better in north-eastern states, Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. It is less than 50% in southern states and these remain a matter of concern for the pan-India rollout of the ambitious scheme,” Officials said.

Retail fertiliser outlets will be equipped with PoS machines to be able to read buyers’ Aadhaar cards. Just after the farmer’s  purchase the difference between market rate and the subsidised amount will be credited to the bank account of the manufacturer concerned. Unlike other DBTs where the subsidy is directly transferred to beneficiary accounts, in this case the subsidy will go to the manufacturer.

Reportedly, records of sales and purchase will bring transparency about the quantity of fertilisers that companies are selling to farmers. They expect this will reduce the total sale by 10-15 per cent and thereby lowering burden on the exchequer by about Rs 6,000 crore annually.

“This system of transferring subsidy to the company will continue till we have a clear definition of who is a farmer – the tiller or the landowner – which the agriculture ministry has to spell out. The present scheme is based on no denial policy where anyone can buy fertiliser after giving details of his Aadhaar card. Once the beneficiaries are identified, the subsidy will be transferred to their bank accounts,” said an official.
In case of cooking gas, kerosene or food grains, the subsidy is limited for certain quantity per household or individual. But since there is no fixed quantity of fertilizer that each farmer uses for an acre of land, in sync with this government has decided to adopt the “no denial” policy.


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