After the big announcement on cash transfers, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, in an interview on CNN-IBN late tonight, said the January 1, 2013, date was only indicative of a "switching" in the delivery systems.
Instead, he said it could take between two and three months for the actual cash transfers to start taking place in the selected 51 districts, after more than 80 per cent Aadhaar penetration was achieved in each.
While asserting the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)-based cash transfer mechanism would make real beneficiaries "easy to identify" and "minimise leakages" within the subsidy delivery system, Ahluwalia also reasoned the new regime would allow transfers to happen "instantly", thereby, opening an opportunity for further "re-engineering" of the subsidy transfer model.
Further, on the enrolment numbers of the UIDAI, Ahluwalia said he was "very confident that in a very short period of time" the authority would be able to reach the required level of penetration and that "it won't take very long to get everyone registered" in the 51 districts.
The trend, however, is more complicated.
In March and April, when the UIDAI was steaming ahead, it enrolled 22.8 million and 15.04 million individuals, respectively, into the Aadhaar programme.
By July and August that number had dropped to 5.7 million and 5.2 million, respectively.
In October, it rose again to 7.92 million and to 11.19 million in November.
On the issue of bank accounts and banking correspondents, both crucial elements of the new cash transfer regime, Ahluwalia said "appropriate instructions" had been issued for Aadhaar to be used for opening accounts and only a "few more" banking correspondents were needed to be brought into the system.
Dampening anxiety about the cash transfer regime pushing inflation further, the Planning Commission deputy chairman said there would be no adverse impact on inflation, as the government would ensure there was no curtailment on the supply side. "I am not at all worried about inflationary impact," he said.