Finance minister P Chidambaram on Saturday hoped the landmark Food Security Bill, to ensure the right to highly subsidised foodgrains to poor, would be passed in the ongoing Budget session of Parliament.
The National Food Security Bill is a promise of the UPA government, he said while addressing the National Editors' Conference in New Delhi.
"I am confident that it will be passed soon by the Parliament, perhaps, in the Budget session itself," he said.
In the 2013-14 Budget, Chidambaram said an amount of Rs. 10,000 crore has been set apart over and above the normal provision for food subsidy towards incremental cost that is likely under the Food Security Act.
The cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday had cleared amendments to the Bill, which aims to grant the country's 67% population the right to get monthly quota of foodgrains at highly subsidised rates of Rs. 1-3 per kg.
The amendments will guarantee 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month, while families in the poorest of the poor will continue to get 35 kg of grains per month.
The ongoing Budget session, which went into a month's recess on Friday, will end on May 10.
About 62 million tonnes of foodgrains would be required to implement the bill, while the food subsidy is estimated at Rs. 1,24,747 crore at 2013-14 costs, which is Rs. 23,800 crore higher than the existing level.
The beneficiaries would be decided by state governments, while the criteria to exclude 33 per cent of population would be provided by the Planning Commission.
In the original bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011, the Centre had proposed 7 kg of rice or wheat or millet a month for priority category at Rs. 3, Rs. 2 and Re 1 per kg respectively, while at least 3 kg per person per month for general households at 50 per cent of support price.