Sale of cheaper sugar has been restored to 2.5 families of Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), the poorest of the poor, under PDS as the Centre has decided to provide subsidy to states to buy the sweetener. The sugar subsidy to AAY and other beneficiaries via PDS was discontinued with effect from March 2017. The Union food and consumer affairs ministry as well as some states had been keen on its continuance for at least AAY families. “We have decided to give one kg sugar to AAY families via PDS. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) took this decision a fortnight ago,” Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters while briefing the government’s achievements on completion of three years in office. An order in this regard has been issued, he added.
As per the order, the Centre will restore a subsidy of Rs 18.50 per kg to state governments for selling only one kg of sugar to AAY families via PDS shops. The subsidy burden on the Centre will be around Rs 550 crore for supplying about 3 lakh tonnes of the sweetener. In the 2017 Budget, the government withdrew the sugar subsidy and earmarked only Rs 200 crore to clear past claims.
For the last fiscal, Rs 4,500 crore were allocated to the scheme that covered BPL families too. Under the scheme, states were buying sugar from the open market at wholesale rates and selling at a subsidised rate of Rs 13.50 per kg through PDS. The Centre was providing subsidy of Rs 18.50 per kg to the states.