In this policy brief, we identify some of the challenges in enrolling for and availing the benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana announced by the Central Government of India. In light of the increased demand for banking facilities and the immediate need to reduce over-crowding of branches, we propose a set of recommendations for immediate activation of access points and a framework to identify and prioritize districts for this exercise. Further, we note that the current structure of incentives for Business Correspondents (BCs) and other key agents does not match the types of risks undertaken by agents to provide services effectively during a pandemic. We propose expansion of incentives paid out to BC agents as well as recommend relaxation of certain conditions linked to their incentive structures. Additionally, we note that there is little clarity as to how fresh enrollments for the schemes covered under PMGKY can take place. In the current scenario, this may lead to the exclusion of some households most in need of central/state assistance. Further, many protocols for access to benefits, such as Aadhaar-linked bank accounts and biometric authentication at ration shops, were intended to address inclusion, rather than exclusion, errors. To prevent exclusion errors in the short-term, we suggest that documentation requirements be relaxed and local authorities, along with BCs and ASHA workers, be empowered to make enrollments for welfare schemes with relaxed documentation requirements. We recommend that Public Distribution System (PDS) should be made universal to all households in an area, whether permanent residents or not, and the requirement of biometric authentication be removed. Lastly, we categorize the aforesaid recommendations based on the kind of levers they require – regulatory, business, and localized coordination
Read the full report here.