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Food Bill on Cabinet agenda

June 12, 2013 16:41 IST

ParliamentThe Cabinet is expected to discuss the much-awaited Ordinance on the National Food Security Bill, which seeks to guarantee legal entitlement for cheap grains to almost 67 per cent of the population, in a meeting slated for Thursday.

According to a senior official, a Cabinet note on promulgating the Ordinance has been circulated to all ministers and the item has been listed for discussion on Thursday.

The Bill was tabled in the Budget session of Parliament, but could not be taken up for discussion because of pandemonium in the Lok Sabha over various scams.

Though some ministers had voiced their opposition to the ordinance route for implementing the food Bill, the government has decided to bring the ordinance to give time for its implementation, officials said.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and others have been the most vocal in their opposition to adopting the Ordinance route.

The Bill, tabled in the Lok Sabha, promises legal entitlement for subsidised food to almost 800 million Indians, out of a total e stimated population of 1.2 billion.

The Bill in its latest avatar -- it has undergone numerous changes ever since it was first tabled in Parliament on December 2011 -- will provide five kg of either wheat or rice or coarse cereals per person per month at Rs 3 per kg, Rs 2 per kg or Rs 1 per kg, respectively.

Apart from that, the Bill will also provide legal entitlement for subsidised grains or allowance to a host of other sections of the population like pregnant women, children and the poorest among the poor households, who would get 35 kg of grains per month.

The Bill will require an annual food subsidy of almost Rs 1.31 lakh crore (Rs 1.31 trillion), which also includes almost Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion) for other incidental expenditures like setting up national and state-level food commissions and grievance redressal mechanisms.

In the 2013-14 Budget, the government allocated Rs 90,000 crore (Rs 900 billion) as food subsidy, of which Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion) was solely on account of the food Bill. The subsidy burden will escalate as and when the Bill is implemented across the country and also because minimum support price of wheat and rice will have to increase to provide remunerative price to farmer, while the sale price will be much lower and flat for at least three years.

ON THE PLATE

  • 'Newly revised Bill guarantees legal entitlement for subsidised grains to 67 per cent of the population
  • 'Promises five kg of wheat,rice or coarse cereals per person per month at Rs 3 per kg, Rs 2 per kg or Rs 1 per kg, respectively
  • '35 kg of grains for pregnant women, children and poorest among the poor per month at subsidised rates 'Bill requires an annual food subsidy of almost Rs 1.31 lakh crore (Rs 1.31 trillion)
  • 'Incidental expenditure will include setting up of national and state-level food commissions & grievance redressal mechanisms
Sanjeeb Mukherjee in New Delhi
Source: