NAC divided over food subsidy, united over grains
The National Advisory Council, headed by Sonia Gandhi, was divided on Thursday on the issue of universal entitlement of foodgrains under the proposed Food Security Bill.delhi Updated: Jul 02, 2010 01:22 IST
The National Advisory Council, headed by Sonia Gandhi, was divided on Thursday on the issue of universal entitlement of foodgrains under the proposed Food Security Bill.
While there was consensus on providing food security to the poor by earmarking 35 kg foodgrains at Rs 3 a kilo for them (as against 25 kgs recommended by the EgoM), there were differences on how to operationalise it.
While some members felt that universalisation would be difficult given the nature of coalition politics, procurements averaging 55 million tones over three years and the high subsidy bill it involves. They also proposed a phase wise rollout of the scheme.
But M.S. Swaminathan and Harsh Mandher in their presentations pitched for universalisation starting with the country’s 150 poor districts. They also called for efforts to increase “overall availability of foodgrains through the stepping up productivity of agriculture and also larger procurement of foodgrains”, said an NAC release.
Former bureaucrat N.C. Saxena suggested staggered implementation of universal entitlement starting with the 150 districts.
The NAC also deliberated on whether to extend food subsidy only to BPL families or to some segments of those falling in the Above Poverty Line (APL) category. The Suresh Tendulkar Committee has put the number of BPL families at an estimated 37.2 pc of the population.
“No decision was taken today. We will continue discussions on the issue,” a NAC member said.
A final view will be taken after the Working Group on Food Security consults with all stakeholders and gives its report so the NAC can finalise its stand at its next meeting on July 14. That day, the panel will also take up the prevention of communal violence bill so that it is on the govenrment’s table for the Monsoon session starting later this month.
First Published: Jul 01, 2010 23:30 IST