Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on Thursday participated in the meeting of the committee of Chief Ministers in a bid to examine and implement measures to implement digital payment systems. The Committee, headed by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, was constituted with the approval of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 30, 2016.
Besides, Chamling the committee also comprises of the Chief Ministers of states like— Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Puducherry. Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog, Dr Arvind Panagariya and independent experts like Nandan Nilekani.
The terms of reference of the committee are to identify the global best practices for implementing an economy based primarily on digital payments, identify and outline measures for rapid expansion and adoption of the system of digital payments, evolve an action plan to reach out to the public at large with the objective of creating awareness to switchover to digital economy, and prepare a roadmap for the administrative machineries in States to facilitate adoption of digital modes of financial transactions.
The Committee in its meeting, deliberated on various aspects such as the global experience with implementing digital payment systems; the options available within India to reach out to the people who have smartphones, those who do not have smartphones but possess feature phones, and people who do not have access to mobile phones of any kind. The issues relating to cyber-security and prevention of fraud, the strategies to bring about attitudinal changes among people, with a view to shift them from cash to digital payments; connectivity and data infrastructure related aspects.
Chamling, in his remarks to the committee stressed primarily on two aspects: first, he emphasized the need to spread awareness among people, particularly in the rural areas, of the technologies available for digital payments and the advantages of going digital and also on the need to improve the internet and broadband connectivity, especially in states like Sikkim where agencies of the Central Government despite large investments have not been able to provide even basic connectivity in the rural and urban areas.
Chamling further underlined the role of grassroot level institutions like Gram Sabhas, Gram Panchayats and Nagar Panchayats, in taking up information, communication and education (ICE) efforts among people living within their respective areas for disseminating information on the modalities and benefits of digital payments. He asked the Central government to assist the grassroot level institutions with financial support in carrying out awareness creation of digital payment systems.
Chamling, in his written comments to the committee, also gave his detailed views on the techno-economic aspects of shifting from cash to digital payments, besides informing the committee of the substantial work already done in Sikkim in this regard. The Committee agreed to compile the views of its members and submit a report on its work to PM Narendra Modi by first week of January.