NEW DELHI: The UPA government may have designed the direct cash transfer scheme for distributing subsidies as a game changer that will help it retain power, but clearly bureaucrats are not so convinced and very few have joined the programme. Direct benefit transfer (DBT) mission has only three people working on the project despite repeated advertisements for the post of undersecretary and below.

“We have repeatedly put in a request for more staff, but it seems that there are not many officials willing to join DBT mission as there is not enough clarity on the future of this project,” a senior government official told ET. The biggest apprehension apparently is that the programme may be scrapped. “When the government, which had launched DBT with so much of fanfare, is dithering, the next government has a moral right to scrap the scheme,” the official said.

Last month, the Cabinet decided to put LPG subsidy transfer via DBT on hold due to implementation-related issues and lack of infrastructure in various districts. The DBT mission is headed by S Sundareshan, a former secretary in the ministry of oil and natural gas.

A joint secretary and adirector who joined last month assist him. The idea of the DBT programme was to plug diversions of subsidy and ensure that it reached the intended beneficiaries. It was rolled out on January 1, 2013, beginning with 43 districts. It was expanded to 121 districts in July.

Schemes covered under DBT include scholarships, Janani Suraksha Yojana, Indira Awas Yojana, unemployment assistance and payment of pension, among others. Transfer of LPG subsidy was added to the scheme in June last year.

Until suspension, LPG subsidy accounted for 82 per cent of the total amount transferred under the scheme. Over the last one year, the government has disbursed only about Rs 3,124 crore through DBT route and of this,Rs 2,574 crore was towards LPG subsidy being transferred in 292 districts. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had, in July last year, announced shifting DBT out from the Planning Commission to the finance ministry for “better coordination” and “resolution of inter-ministerial issues”.

The government felt that the two departments, which had the maximum interface with DBT, were the department of expenditure, which is in charge of all government funds being transacted through DBT, and the department of financial services, which is responsible for financial inclusion and managing the cash transfer process through the Aadhaar payment bridge.

While the finance ministry has taken control of the programme, DBT officials continue to be housed in Yojana Bhawan and use its infrastructure and support staff.