Kerala assembly: Oppn slams govt for essential food subsidy revision | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Ruckus in Kerala assembly: Oppn slams govt for essential food subsidy revision

By, Kochi
Feb 16, 2024 02:07 AM IST

The ruckus erupted on the LDF government’s decision to revise the subsidies of 13 essential items sold through the outlets of Supplyco.

The Kerala Assembly witnessed a ruckus on Thursday after opposition legislators belonging to the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) trooped into the well in front of the Speaker’s podium protesting against the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government’s decision to revise the subsidies of 13 essential items sold through the outlets of Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco).

Leaders of the Opposition party raised slogans against the government and stormed to the well of the Kerala assembly on Thursday. (ANI)
Leaders of the Opposition party raised slogans against the government and stormed to the well of the Kerala assembly on Thursday. (ANI)

Leader of Opposition (LoP) VD Satheesan accused food and civil supplies minister GR Anil of keeping the House in the dark about the price revision of essential items sold through Supplyco. He said he got to know about the cabinet decision through the media while it was not communicated inside the House. The opposition MLAs further held placards and shouted slogans against the government.

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A release from the chief minister’s office on Thursday stated that the prices of 13 essential items would be sold at a subsidy of 35% from the open market. “In this way, a beneficiary would be able to buy the 13 items together at Supplyco at 940 compared to 1446 in the open market. The decision is based on the conviction that it is necessary to revise the subsidy prices scientifically and rationally to keep this system sustainable and permanent,” the statement said.

The last revision of subsidies of the essential items was conducted in 2014 and since then due to fluctuations in the prices in the open market, the gap between current prices and the subsidised prices was large, resulting in a huge liability for Supplyco, the CMO said.

Around 3.5-4 million families depend on the retail outlets of Supplyco. The subsidised essentials include Jaya rice, Kuruva rice, Matta rice, sugar, coconut oil, green gram, red chilli, coriander, black gram, chickpea, red cowpeas and toor dal.

While the government claimed that the subsidies have merely been revised after 10 years, the opposition said that it would actually result in an underhanded increase in prices of items.

“This is akin to walking back from the government’s promise to the people that it would not hike prices of essential items. The LDF had made the promise before the elections last time. The hike in prices of 13 essential items at Supplyco would lead to artificial rise in prices in the open market. Service charges for all tariffs like electricity, water, fuel, house tax have been hiked in this financial year,” Satheesan alleged.

As some members from the opposition continued shouting, even after the LDF MLAs went back to their seats, the House rushed through the remaining legislative and financial business and then the Speaker adjourned the Assembly sine die (indefinitely).

The House passed the Vote on Account, the Kerala Finance Bill, 2024, the Kerala Appropriation Bill, 2024 and Kerala Appropriation (Vote on Account) Bill, 2024 without any discussion as the opposition remained in the well of the House shouting slogans.

Before adjourning the House, the Speaker also read out a summary of the business conducted by the House during the 10th session of the Assembly.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vishnu Varma is Assistant Editor and reports from Kerala for the Hindustan Times. He has 10 years of experience writing for print and digital platforms and has worked at The New York Times, NDTV and The Indian Express in the past. He specialises in longform reportage at the intersections of politics, crime, social commentary and environment.

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