UPA likely to push food bill in budget session | delhi | Hindustan Times
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UPA likely to push food bill in budget session

delhi Updated: Jan 18, 2013 01:40 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times
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The flagship National Food Security Bill, which has been years in the making, is likely to be placed before Parliament in the forthcoming budget session, with a parliamentary panel approving it on Thursday and food minister KV Thomas opposing any further delay.

The bill, which stems from a Congress poll promise, is the second of two large entitlement-based welfare legislations of the UPA government. The previous one, a popular rural pay-for-work scheme, helped propel the Congress-led coalition to a second term, analysts say.

A senior official said the food ministry has flagged off its readiness for the draft law's inclusion in the budget session. It still needs a fresh Cabinet approval, a formality.

The bill provides for fixed monthly food handouts to 67% of the population — or about 800 million people — while in 250 poorest districts of the country, 90% of the people will be covered.

When signed into law, the food bill will provide each member of an entitled household 5 kg of rice, wheat or millets at Rs. 3, Rs. 2 and Rs. 1 a kilo every month, way below the market price. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/1/18_01_13-metro9.jpg

The bill will cost Rs. 1.12 lakh crore annually to implement. So, the government will have to increase its spending on food aid by more than a third, going by the current financial year's projected food subsidy bill of Rs. 92,493 crore.

A small price to pay, according to economist Jean Drèze, considering that India is home to the world's largest proportion of hunger-stricken children.

As is required under law-making, the Parliament's standing committee on food, a cross-party panel, vetted the bill and cleared it, paving the way for its adoption by Parliament.