Onus on states to identify food Bill beneficiaries in one year

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 28 2013, 08:25am hrs
Lok Sabha passed the National Food Security Bill 2013 on Monday after a series of amendments, including one-year time for states to identify beneficiaries and fixing annual grain allocation to the states.

Under the new Bill, the annual allocation of gain for states have been estimated at 55 million tonne. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh would be the two biggest beneficiaries for annual grain allocations at 9.6 million tonne and 5.5 mt.

An amendment stipulates states would get one year to prepare beneficiaries list against six months said earlier.

Agreeing to the opposition demand that the Centre must discuss with states prior to any changes in implementation, an amendment has been inserted which says, The Centre may, in consultation with the state and by notification, make rules to carry out the provisions of this Act.

The new food Bill would ensure that few states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Orissa continue to get additional grain at above poverty lines (APL) rates.

This implies that states, whose annual allocation of grain was reduced as per the food law, will continue to get extra allocation of grains at the existing APL rate of R8.30 per kg for rice and R6.10 per kg for wheat. This clause would cost the government R5,000 crore annually.

The food security Bill has also dropped the word ready-to-eat meal for mother and children under ICDS and mid-day meal scheme while mentioning hot cooked, pre-cooked and heated meal before its service should be provided.

As per the proposed legislation, upto 75% of rural population and 50% of the urban population will have uniform entitlement of 5 kg grain per month at a highly subsidised prices of R3, R2, R1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grain, respectively. The proposed law would entitle two-thirds of country's 1.2 billion people to subsidised grain under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

Besides, about 2.43 crore poorest of the poor families overed under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme under the existing TPDS would continue to get 35 kg of grain per family per month but with legal entitlement.

The annual financial burden after implementation of National Food Security law is estimated to be R1,24,800 crore approx at current cost, food minister KV Thomas had said in Parliament. The government is likely to incur additional financial burden is estimated at R23,850 crore annually, he had noted.

The food security Bill is now likely to be presented before the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in a statement said the massive outlay of funds required for rolling out the Food Security programme is bound to raise the fiscal deficit by putting an additional burden of thousands of crores on the exchequer.

"Such a large outlay at this point in time would definitely have a negative impact on the fiscal deficit. This needs to be managed," CII president Kris Gopalakrishnan said.