Economic Survey: Subsidies benefit the rich more
NEW DELHI: Subsidies benefit the rich more than the poor and
the government should link the JAM trinity — Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar number
and Mobile numbers — for its effective transfer to the intended beneficiaries,
the Economic Survey has suggested.
Pointing out that the price subsidies are “regressive” in
nature and “do not seem” to have transformed the living standards of the poor,
the Survey, tabled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Lok Sabha on Friday,
recommended that leakages in subsidies should be eliminated by cash transfers
while the deployment of fiscal resources should be “based on data rather than
“Price subsidies are often regressive in nature… a rich
household benefits more from the subsidy than a poor household… Eliminating or
phasing down subsidies is neither feasible nor desirable unless accompanied by
other forms of support to cushion the poor and vulnerable and enable them to
achieve their economic aspirations. The JAM number trinity allows the state to
offer this support to poor households in a targeted and less distortive way,”
the Survey said.
According to the estimates, all subsidies including wheat,
rice, pulses, railways, water, kerosene, LPG, electricity, sugar and
fertilisers stood at Rs 3,78,000 crore, about 4.24 per cent of GDP.
Claiming that India has “reached a sweet spot and… there is
scope for Big Bang reforms now”, the Survey projected a growth rate of 8.1-8.5
per cent in 2015-16 and stressed that the Centre would meet its fiscal deficit
target of 4.1 per cent of the GDP in this fiscal and 3 per cent in the medium
term to restore its credibility.
Improving macroeconomic situation, a clear political mandate
for reforms and a benign external environment is now expected to propel India
to double-digit growth trajectory, the Survey said, even as it made a case for
better targeting of subsidies.
Detailing the manner in which the subsidies end up benefiting
rich households more than a poor household, it said that in the case of
electricity, for instance, while the bottom quintile of households consumed
just 10 per cent of the total subsidy, the top quintile consumed 37 per cent of
the total power subsidies of Rs 32,300 crore.
Similarly, the poorest 50 per cent households consume only 25
per cent of the LPG subsidy while 51 per cent of subsidised kerosene is
consumed by non-poor households and almost 15 per cent of subsidised kerosene
is actually consumed by the relatively well-off, i.e., the richest 40 per cent.
The total LPG subsidy stood at Rs 23,746 crore, according to government