Category: Revamped/targeted PDS

Exclude the better-off

FOOD SUBSIDY The National Food Security Act (NFSA) enacted by the then UPA – government in 2013 guarantees availability of 5 kg of cereals per person per month at Rs 3 per kg rice, Rs 2 per kg wheat and Rs 1 per kg coarse cereals to 67% of India’s population (75% rural & 50% urban). The cost of making food available being substantially higher, this entails massive subsidy payment. Subsidy is financial supports given by government to enable a person buy a commodity which he cannot afford with his limited income. Prudence demands that this should be given for a temporary period to avoid perennial burden on the exchequer. This period should be used to enable him earn more...
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Food subsidy reform – unlikely in Modi’s term

The National Food Security Act (NFSA) enacted by the then UPA – government in 2013 guarantees availability of 5 kg of cereals per person per month at Rs 3 per kg rice, Rs 2 per kg wheat & Rs 1 per kg coarse cereals to 67% of India’s population (75% rural & 50% urban). This is an astounding admission that six-and-a-half decade after independence, nearly 800 million of country’s population are so poor that food has to be supplied at close to ‘zero’ price. Subsidy is financial supports given by government to enable a person buy a commodity or service which he cannot afford with his limited income. As a matter of prudent policy, this should be given for a...
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Dismantle TPDS, give cash to poor

For all those couched in socialistic mindset and obstinate about keeping complete control on food supply and distribution in pursuit of food security – regardless of all the negatives that go with it – need to take a look at a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General [CAG] on “Procurement and milling of paddy for Central pool” tabled in the Parliament on December 8, 2015. But, first a word on the trigger for audit by CAG is in order. A whistle-blower in Odisha had alleged that close to Rs 10,000 crores of black money was being generated every day as millers were hiding or under-reporting earnings from sale of paddy by-products. Reportedly, the Prime Minister’s Office [PMO] had forwarded...
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Direct income support – half-a-dozen speed breakers ahead

In January 2013 the then UPA – government had announced a nation-wide roll-out of direct benefit transfer [DBT] – an acronym for transfer of subsidy amount in to the bank account of the beneficiary. But, the mission remained on paper as even in LPG [liquefied petroleum gas] where it was launched on a limited scale June, 2013, the plan was abandoned in January, 2014. Modi – government resurrected DBT for LPG in November, 2014 in select districts and by January, 2015 embraced all 676 districts in India. Emboldened by its success [leakages have been completely eliminated and this alone would result in saving of over Rs 10,000 crores annually] is now planning big to cover all other subsidies viz., kerosene,...
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‘Unshackle’ food sector before cash transfer

Emboldened by the success of DBT (direct benefit transfer) in LPG, the government is keen to launch this in food and fertilizers. To begin with, it will launch a pilot scheme in Puducherry where 330,000 ration card holders could receive Rs 300-400 a month each in their bank account in lieu of their monthly quota of rice after the lists are validated and their bank accounts are seeded with Aadhaar. Beneficiaries will be free to spend the money on any thing, not necessarily grain. If, the pilot in Puducherry is successful, it will be rolled out in other Union Territories (UTs) When juxtaposed with Modi – government’s tall claim about implementing DBT [a committee under Mr Shanta Kumar – a...
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India’s food reforms – trapped in ‘twilight’ zone

Pressure is mounting on the government even from within to fix a much higher minimum support price (MSP) for paddy during July – June 2015-16 agriculture crop season than the amount recommended by the Commission on Agriculture Cost and Prices (CACP). The CACP had recommended a modest increase of 4% which translates to about Rs 50 per quintal over existing price of Rs 1360 per quintal for common variety of paddy. On the other hand, some sections within government are gunning for a hike of double this amount or Rs 100 per quintal. Meanwhile, farmers organizations e.g. Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS) have resurrected demand for bonus over and above MSP that some states viz., Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh etc were giving...
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Volte-face on food reforms

On August 15, 2014 the prime minister had announced government’s intent to trifurcate Food Corporation of India (FCI) in to three entities each devoted to procurement, handling and distribution. Being a cosmetic exercise and far from making a dent on maladies afflicting the sector, the announcement failed to enthuse analysts. In a (pleasant) surprise turn of events, a committee constituted up under chairmanship of Mr Shanta Kumar – a senior leader of BJP and ex-minister in the NDA government under Vajpayee – has come up with recommendations which are out-of-the-box and hold a promise of bringing about a ‘paradigm shift’ in India’s food economy. It recommends:- (i)   drastic curtailment in the role of the state/government in addressing food needs...
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Lift the veil on subsidies

In his maiden budget for 2014-15 presented on July 10, 2014, finance minister, Arun Jaitely had announced setting up of an expenditure management commission (EMC) to recommend a road- map up for rationalizing and phasing out major subsidies. As a follow up, on September 4, the government constituted the EMC under chairmanship of Dr Bimal Jalan. The commission’s mandate puts under scanner government’s spending on all its programmes and schemes, procurement from defence to office items besides the methodology for counting receipts and expenditure. It is expected to recommend measures for utilization of allocated funds in the most cost effective manner. While addressing the just concluded ET Global Business Summit, Jaitely informed that the recommendations of the commission made in...
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Scrap the Food Security Act

It’s a colossal dole that will impact production and push up prices without improving the condition of the hungry The Indian electorate has given an overwhelming mandate to the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) hoping it will deliver development and good governance. The Congress-led UPA has been routed. This shows the people have rejected its hollow promises of access to the essentials of life as a matter of right. All through his election campaign, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi made a song and dance about a list of fundamental rights granted to people under the UPA dispensation. Among these, he talked loudest of the right to food to demonstrate that his party was sensitive to the livelihood concerns of the...
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Food Security – need for a paradigm shift

Indian electorate has given an overwhelming mandate to Narendra Modi led NDA to conduct affairs of nation on plank of development and good governance. Congress led UPA has been routed. People have rejected its hollow promises of access to quint-essentials of life as a matter of right. All through his election campaign, Rahul Gandhi (RG) brow beated about a volley of fundamental rights granted to people under UPA dispensation. He talked loudest about right to food to demonstrate that his party was sensitive to livelihood concerns of poor. India has been ruled by Congress for over six decades. Through most of this period, it has consistently proclaimed its commitment to ameliorating lot of poor. It milched ‘Garibi Hatao’ slogan to...
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