New Delhi: The World Bank on Wednesday slammed the Indian government’s anti-poverty schemes. The bank said India was not getting "bang for the rupee" due to "leakages" in the funding of national projects such as the Public Distribution System (PDS) which doles out state-subsidized food and fuel to the poor.

The Bank also pointed to "uneven implementation" of MNREGA across states.
The Central Government has been spending huge fund annually on the social development programmes but the benefit cannot be reached to the poor.

The World Bank said the anti-poverty schemes did not offer value for money and were sometimes undermined by corruption.
"While India devotes over two percent of gross domestic product to her social programmes... the poor are not able to reap the full benefits of such large investments," the World Bank's lead economist John Blomquist said.

Forty-two percent of Indians, or 455 million people, live on less than USD 1.25 a day, according to the World Bank. India's statistics on health, infant mortality and malnutrition are worse than those of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Safety nets in India remain primarily 'nets' rather than 'ropes' or 'ladders' which seek to promote sustained movement out of poverty," he said, releasing the World Bank report on social protection programmes.

The PDS scheme, for example, "continues to absorb substantial public resources at almost one percent of GDP (and) while it covers up to a quarter of Indian households, its benefits for the poor have been limited."

Blomquist, who said the study was based on official data from 2004-2005 and other available records, added that "leakage and diversion of grains from the PDS are high."

Citing government findings, the economist in New Delhi said only 41 percent of grains released by the government reached households in 2004-05.

"Some leakage is due to irregularities and corruption but it is mainly due to capacity constraints" of state administrations with poor distribution infrastructure, Blomquist said.

"We are not taking a stand for the abolishment of the PDS but there is a strong case to be made for cash as a pillar of assistance for India's poor," he added.

(JPN/Bureau/agency)