Budget 2015: Marginal hike in food & fertiliser subsidies

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Published: March 1, 2015 2:23 AM

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has marginally hiked allocation under the food subsidy keeping in mind the countrywide...

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has marginally hiked allocation under the food subsidy keeping in mind the countrywide rollout of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the next fiscal. Besides, fertiliser subsidy allocation has also been increased.

The government has earmarked R1,24,419 crore for food subsidy in the next fiscal as against R1,22,675 crore in the revised estimate of
2014-15.

Of the total food subsidy allocation, close to R65,000 crore is for implementation of NFSA, which envisages providing highly subsidised foodgrain to 67% of the country’s population.

Fertiliser subsidy has been pegged at R72,968 crore for the next fiscal, higher than R70,967 crore estimated for the current year.

The food ministry has given states time till April 2015 to roll out the food security legislation. However, the majority of states with substantial poor population, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, have not yet put the beneficiaries’ list online for implementation of NFSA.

The NFSA envisages giving 5 kg of grain monthly to each individual beneficiary at R3, R2 and R1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse cereals,
respectively.

This has led to delay in the rollout of the food security legislation, which was to be implemented from July 2014 after its passage in Parliament a year ago.

Sourced told FE that because of huge diversion of foodgrain from the existing Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), the food ministry has been insisting on displaying the PDS beneficiary list online — so that forged names can be deleted — and computerisation of grain delivery and transportation mechanism, prior to roll out of NFSA.

Eleven states and Union Territories — Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi and Chandigarh — have so far implemented the Act, some fully and others partially.

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