Food Bill may be taken up by Cabinet today

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 13 2011, 08:43am hrs
The Cabinet is likely to consider the National Food Security Bill which envisages subsidised foodgrain as legal entitlement for two third of the country's population on Tuesday.

Once the Cabinet approves the bill, the food ministry will table in parliament during the current season.

As per the food bill, 75% of the rural households will get subsidised grain and at least 46% households would be considered as priority category, and each person in these households will get the 7 kg of grain a month at subsidised prices Rs 2 per kg for rice, Rs 3 for wheat and Rs 1 for coarse grain.

In case of urban centres, out of the 50% of the total households to be covered under the food act, atleast 28% would get priority status. The priority households in the urban areas would get 'atleast' 3 kg of subsidised food grains per person per month.

It implies that entitlement for the subsidised food grains for priority sector can go up beyond sanctioned amount, the food minister KV Thomas told FE.

At present, the government provides subsidised food grains to families below the poverty line through Targetted Public Distribution System.

Earlier, the Empwered Group of Ministers (EGoM) which had cleared the bill had opted to tread the middle path between the National Advisory Council and Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council. The NAC wanted legal entitlement to extended to 90% of the rural households and 75% of the urban households. The PMEAC had raised concern over the availability of foodgrains for such a cover.

As reported by FE first, several state governments including those ruled by Congress party complained to the food ministry that legal entitlements for subsidised grain to a large section of the population as envisaged in the Bill would put an enormous financial burden on them.