The Cabinet on Tuesday deferred a decision on the draft Food Security Bill that seeks to give legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains to about 64 per cent of the country's population.
"The discussion on the draft food bill remained inconclusive and the matter has been deferred for the next week. The discussion will continue again next week," a Cabinet minister, who was present in the meeting, said.
In the proposed law, beneficiaries have been divided into two categories-- priority households and the general households. Priority households are the same as the families under the below poverty line in the existing public distribution system, while general households above poverty line families.
The government plans to cover up to 75 per cent of the rural population, with at least 46 per cent under priority households. In urban area, up to 50 per cent of the people will be covered, of which 28
The bill seeks to provide 7 kg of rice and wheat to per person per month to priority households at Rs 3 and Rs 2 per kg, respectively. Persons under the general households would get at least 3kg at 50 per cent of the minimum support price.
Once the law is implemented, the food subsidy bill is expected to go up to about Rs 95,000 crore (Rs 950 billion) from Rs 63,000 crore (Rs 630 billion) in the last fiscal, while foodgrains requirement would go up to 61 million tonnes from 55 million tonnes.
Under the present PDS, the government provides 35 kg of wheat and rice per month to 6.52 crore BPL families at Rs 4.15 and Rs 5.65 per kg, respectively. About 11.5 crore APL families gets between 15 and 35 kg of wheat and rice per month at Rs 6.10 and Rs 8.30/kg, respectively.
The bill provides for cash reimbursement if the government fails to provide subsidised foodgrains because of natural calamities such as drought and floods.