National Food Security Act: Food ministry’s dynamic database to identify subsidy beneficiaries | The Financial Express

National Food Security Act: Food ministry’s dynamic database to identify subsidy beneficiaries

Officials also said that under section 38 of NFSA states that the centre to provide guidelines to states from time to time for ensuring effective implementation of food security legislation.

National Food Security Act: Food ministry’s dynamic database to identify subsidy beneficiaries
The government has so far spent about Rs2.6 trillion under PMGKAY, which was launched in April 2020.

In a bid to develop a uniform criteria for identification of beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the food ministry is formulating new guidelines in consultation with state governments.

Currently, state governments follow different norms for identification of beneficiaries under NFSA, under which more than 800 million people are provided with highly subsidised food grains. It is not clear if and how the new guidelines could alter the number of beneficiaries.   

Sources told FE that the objective of the proposed model guidelines is to “bring in uniformity, rightful targeting and evolving dynamic data base” under public distribution system where the inclusion and exclusion exercises are undertaken on a regular basis.

Officials said that as per the section 10 of NFSA, respective state government and Union Territories have the responsibility of identification and selection of beneficiaries. States currently follow inclusions criteria, which broadly covers residential vulnerability, age, disabilities, gender, caste, income and occupational vulnerability. Sources said that the usage of different criteria by states likely to leave an essential gap in the coverage under NFSA.

For instance, destitution being recognised as inclusion criteria is only followed by 16 states and union territories. The vulnerable households criteria is followed by only 9 states/UTs while the gender based vulnerability is followed by 28 states/UTs. NFSA which was passed in parliament in 2013, aims at providing highly subsidised food grains to 75% of the rural and 50% of the rural population.

Officials also said that under section 38 of NFSA states that the centre to provide guidelines to states from time to time for ensuring effective implementation of food security legislation.

Beneficiaries under NFSA, receive 5 kgs of foodgrains per person per month at subsidised prices of Rs 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains. Besides, the existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana households, referred as poorest of the poor will continue to receive 35 Kgs of foodgrains per household per month.

The economic cost of food grains procurement by the Food Corporation of India, which includes expenses such as MSP payment to farmers, procurement, acquisition and distribution costs etc for rice and wheat are Rs 3,597.2 and Rs 2,499.7 per quintal, respectively in 2021-22.

The Union Budget 202223) has made a provision Rs 2.06 trillion under food subsidy in 2022-23. However, the government has to provide additional funds under the food subsidy head following the Union Cabinet last month decision to extend the free ration scheme – Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) announced in 2020 to deal with COVID19 pandemic, by six months to September-end 2022, at an additional cost of Rs 80,000 crore.

The government has so far spent about Rs2.6 trillion under PMGKAY, which was launched in April 2020.

“Under the extended PM-GKAY each beneficiary will get additional 5 kg free ration per person per month in addition to his normal quota of food grains under NFSA”, according to a statement issued by the department of food and public distribution after the Cabinet meeting.

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First published on: 12-04-2022 at 05:45 IST