Punjab has become the 13th state in the country to successfully undertake “One Nation One Ration Card system” reform stipulated by the Finance Ministry.
The state has now become eligible to mobilise additional financial resources of Rs 1,516 crore through Open Market Borrowings. Permission for the same was issued by the Department of Expenditure.
Punjab has now joined 12 other states namely, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh, who have completed this reform.
On completion of One Nation One Ration Card system reform, these 13 states have been granted additional borrowing permission of Rs 34,956 crore by the Department of Expenditure.
One Nation One Ration Card System is an important citizen centric reform. Its implementation ensures availability of ration to beneficiaries under National Food Security Act (NFSA) and other welfare schemes, especially the migrant workers and their families, at any Fair Price Shop (FPS) across the country.
The reform also enables the states in better targeting of beneficiaries, elimination of bogus/duplicate/ineligible card holders resulting in enhanced welfare and reduced leakage.
Further, to ensure seamless inter-state portability of a ration card, Aadhaar seeding of all ration cards as well as biometric authentication of beneficiaries through automation of all Fair Price Shops (FPSs) with installation of electronic point of sale (e-PoS) devices are essential. Therefore, additional borrowing limit of 0.25 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) is allowed to the states only on completion of both of the following actions: Aadhaar Seeding of all the ration cards and beneficiaries in the state; Automation of all the FPSs in the state.
In view of the resource requirement to meet multiple challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Central government had on May 17, 2020 enhanced the borrowing limit of the states by 2 per cent of their GSDP. Half of this special dispensation i.e. 1 per cent of GSDP was linked to undertaking citizen centric reforms by the states.
Till now, 17 states have carried out at least one of the four stipulated reforms and have been granted reform linked borrowing permissions. Out of these, 13 states have implemented the one nation one ration card system, 12 states have done ease of doing business reforms, 6 states have done local body reforms and 2 states have undertaken power sector reforms. Total reform linked additional borrowing permission issued so far to the states stands at Rs 76,512 crore.