Parliamentary panel for Food Bill wheat guarantee at Rs 2, rice at Rs 3 to all beneficiaries

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UPA's ambitious Food Bill should guarantee 5 kg wheat and rice to all at uniform price: PP (Reuters) UPA's ambitious Food Bill should guarantee 5 kg wheat and rice to all at uniform price: PP (Reuters)
SummaryUPA's ambitious Food Bill should guarantee 5 kg wheat and rice to all at uniform price: PP

beneficiary with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month at uniform subsidised price," Muttemwar said.

"There should be no general and priority households categories, only inclusion and exclusion. This suggestion has been made to make food bill sustainable," he added.

The panel was of the view that "such categorisation is very complicated and impractical" and it would have been difficult to implement, he said.

Asked about lowering the quantity from 7 kg to 5 kg, he said: "The Committee found that entitlement of 7 kg or 11 kg would not be feasible considering the current production and procurement trends."

The requirement of foodgrains and other welfare scheme would be 56.8 million tonnes and subsidy would be Rs 1.12 lakh crore, he said, adding that the coverage should be reviewed after 10 years and rates after 5 years.

On cash transfer of food subsidy, Muttemwar said the committee felt that cash transfer in lieu of foodgrains entitlements at this juncture may not be desirable.

It has recommended that banking infrastructure and accessibility to banking facility should be made available throughout India before introducing cash transfer.

Considering the demand from States for universal coverage, the Committee recommended that they should be given the flexibility to extend the coverage beyond this bill to cover more population out of their own resources.

"simple and fair way of setting state-wise exclusion ratio should be prescribed in a transparent manner so as to retain the existing coverage of population".

Stating that allocation to some states may fall from current level, the panel has suggested that the Centre should protect states' quota through executive orders.

On the issue of sharing of expenditure between the Centre and the states, the committee has recommended that the states can be divided into three categories -- A, B and C -- based on their financial performance.

The Centre may provide financial assistance to the extent of 50 per cent to Category B and 75 per cent to Category C for one time capital expenditure to be incurred on creation of infrastructure, constitution of state food commission, upkeep and creation of storage space, etc, it added.

The Food Ministry should consult the Finance Commission in relation to the additional expenditure required to be borne by the state governments so that they can allocate sufficient funds in their respective budgets for the implementation of the National Food Security Bill, 2011.

The panel also suggested that Ministry of Railways should initiate urgent steps to

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