Aadhaar making big impact, helped govt save Rs34,000 cr: finance secretary

Amid concerted opposition to the government's use of Aadhaar identity for its various schemes, finance secretary Ashok Lavasa has defended the government's move saying Aadhar has made a significant impact on the Indian economy and the success achieved in DBT is one among such benefits.

Speaking at an industry body event on Wednesday, Lavasa termed the Aadhaar card scheme as ''revolutionary'' and said it has helped the government save Rs34,000 crore while making a big impact in some schemes.

He said Aadhaar seeding had brought efficiency and transparency in implementation of public schemes, adding that the direct benefit transfer (DBT) using the Aadhaar has had a significant impact.

''There has been some palpable achievement in DBT.... Order of saving would be Rs 34,000 crore,'' he said, adding that the DBT has already been implemented in 78 schemes. The finance secretary highlighted how Haryana has managed to interlink the kerosene and LPG subsidy beneficiaries through the Aadhaar and is now aiming to become kerosene free in April.

He also defended the government's proposal to make Aadhaar mandatory for securing a permanent account number and for filing income-tax returns from July, adding that the government's initiatives should not be undermined.

He said for Indians who have been applauding developed economies that had common unique identification for their citizens. this is a volte face and has no proper basis.

''This platform of Aadhaar, which has been created should not be undermined.... Aadhaar seeding has brought more efficiency,'' Lavasa said at an Assocham event on Wednesday.

Lavasa said Aadhaar has provided identity to 105 crore people and that there is a distinct possibility of the Aadhaar number emerging as a single identity for the citizens.

''It has a huge potential of changing many of the procedures which we had to observe while conducting business,'' he said. He said the governance reforms carried out over the last three years aim to make the system more transparent and less arbitrary.

Lavasa pointed that Aadhaar was linked to a whole gamut of public expenditure, which is a matter of concern not only for those who want more efficiency in public spending but also those concerned with transparency and removal of corruption.