New Delhi: The government on Wednesday expanded its social safety net programme to cover more beneficiaries, ahead of the crucial state polls due later this year and general elections in 2019.
The cabinet cleared a proposal to expand the scope and benefits associated with the government’s ambitious Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), aimed at providing a bank account to every Indian household.
The aim will now be to provide a bank account to every individual, finance minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after the cabinet meeting.
The government’s efforts to widen the financial inclusion net, along with its actions to act against black money, are expected to be a major part of the electoral campaign of the Bharatiya Janata Party when it seeks re-election.
“PMJDY has been a boon to rural households, especially women as they are the largest beneficiaries of this scheme,” Jaitley wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter. The government estimates that around 80% of Indians have bank accounts.
According to the cabinet decision, overdraft facility for the accounts opened under the new scheme will be doubled to ₹10,000, of which ₹2,000 will be without any conditions. Age limit for availing of the overdraft has also been raised to 65 years from 60.
The accident insurance cover available on the RuPay debit cards linked with the new insurance account has been doubled to ₹2 lakh.
The Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana was launched by the Narendra Modi-led government in August 2014. It was the first big mission launched by the Modi government after it assumed office in May 2014. Initially spelt out by the finance minister in his budget speech, the financial inclusion programme was announced by Modi during his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
The mission aimed to provide at least one bank account for every household, along with an overdraft facility of ₹5,000, a RuPay debit card and a personal accident insurance of ₹1 lakh. Eventually, the government also rolled out concessional life insurance, health insurance and pension schemes for people as it sought to bring every Indian into the social security net.