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Govt stalls food grain subsidy cut for poor

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has said that the issue will be discussed with all UPA allies and supporting parties.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2006 21:49 IST

The decision to reduce the quantity of food grains under the Public Distribution System that will bring down food subsidy has been put on hold. Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said that the issue would be discussed with all UPA allies and supporting parties.

"I am not executing the decision on food subsidy cut. The entire decision has been stayed. I will discuss this issue with UPA people," Pawar told reporters in New Delhi.

"I am going to explain the entire position behind the food subsidy cut to Congress party, CPM and CPI," he said on the sidelines of a function to launch a new scheme on diary/poultry venture capital fund.

"Until we sit together on this issue, the decision will not be executed," Pawar said in response to a query that even the main constituent in the ruling coalition, the Congress, has opposed the Union Cabinet decision to reduce food subsidy.

Government took the decision last week to reduce off-take quantity of food grains for both Above Poverty Line (APL) and Below Poverty Line (BPL) families to 20 kg and 30 kg respectively, while increasing the issue prices for wheat and rice under PDS.

As a result of this move, food subsidy for 2005-06 would come down by Rs 4,524 crore.

The minister said the decision to reduce food subsidy was focussed on only those above poverty line and not for those families who are below the poverty line.

The issue price of wheat and rice were formulated in 2000 and since 2003 there has been no revision even as procurement prices have increased every year, he said.

Pawar said the entire burden of higher price was borne by the central government.

First Published: Jan 10, 2006 21:49 IST