"The biggest Direct Cash Transfer programme in the world, PaHaL, for transfer of LPG subsidy, has been extended across the country from January 1, 2015, so far covering 75 percent of the user households," President Pranab Mukherjee said at a joint sitting of Parliament, whose budget session commenced on Monday.
    
The Direct Benefit Transfer scheme for LPG subsidy, now renamed PaHaL or Pratyaksha Hastaantarit Laabh, covers 75 percent of 15.3 crore LPG consumers in the country and has overtaken similar programmes in countries such as China, Mexico and Brazil, where the maximum beneficiaries were no more than 2.2 crore.
    
Under the scheme, LPG cylinders are sold at market rates across the country. Consumers get Rs 558 in their bank accounts so that they can buy LPG at the market rate of Rs 605 per 14.2-kg cylinder.
    
A subsidised LPG cylinder currently costs Rs 417. "To ensure that the benefits of developmental programmes reach the last intended beneficiary without leakages and impediments, the Direct Benefit Transfer programme is being implemented with renewed vigour," Mukherjee said.
    
In all, 35 schemes have been brought under direct benefit transfer architecture. "Special emphasis is attached to make Aadhar enrolment coverage universal," he added.
    
The President said major reforms have been taken in the petroleum sector, including deregulation of diesel prices. Petrol, which was deregulated in June 2010, has seen retail prices go down by more than Rs 17 per litre in past seven months.
    
"The government has put to rest all speculation regarding the long pending issue of revising gas prices and put in place a prudent policy in national interest," he said.
    
The policy of mixing sugarcane-extracted ethanol in petrol has also been revised to help farmers, he added.

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