New Delhi, Nov 6: Explaining philosophy behind the government's JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) initiative, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the question was whether to continue subsidies indefinitely with an unquantified amount going to an unidentified number of people, or target specific categories of people needing them.
Speaking at the annual Delhi Economics Conclave here organised by his ministry, Jaitley said JAM initiative would help better targeting of beneficiaries.
"Over the next few years, our intention is that various other areas which are today on pilot projects should actually enlarge themselves at a national level so that the national saving is much more," the finance minister said.
He said the country has moved from 58 percent bank connectivity to a near 100 percent.
Describing the rationalisation of subsidies as "unsung reforms", he said there were 92 crore Aadhaar numbers with over 90 crore mobile phones.
Inaugurating the conclave, Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier in the morning said accounts opened under Jan-Dhan Yojana now have a total balance of almost Rs.26,000 crore.
"JAM for me is just achieving maximum - maximum value, maximum empowerment to people and maximum technological penetration among the masses," Modi said.
The conclave is also being attended by Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Kerala, Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya and former Unique ID authority chairman Nandan Nilekani, and senior officials.
Over 190 million accounts have been opened under the Jan Dhan financial inclusion scheme, with around 38 percent of these being zero-balance accounts.
The government is looking to extend the cash transfers scheme to other programmes of subsidy as well.
Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, who is also attending the conclave, earlier described the government's direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme as a "game changer" for India.
He highlighted that the fiscal impact of the government's DBT scheme of cash transfers has yielded savings of over Rs.12,000 crore on domestic LPG in 2014-15.
Subramanian went on to illustrate how pilot projects and studies show subsidy leakages to have gone down from 25 to 12 percent.
JAM, which was first coined by the chief economic advisor last February in the Economic Survey, represents - Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile - that will allow the transfer of benefits in a leakage-proof, targeted and cashless mode.