Category: Targeting subsidies

Unshackle farmers from subsidy and control raj

Dr Ramesh Chand, Member [Agriculture], NITI [National Institute for Transforming India] Aayog – the new incarnation of erstwhile Planning Commission – has reiterated that prime minister’s commitment to double farmers’ income by 2022 is doable. The average income of a farmers’ family in India is about Rs 6400 per month, but the variations across states are huge. For instance, in Punjab the average income is a high of Rs 18,000 per month, in Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand, it is less than Rs 5000 per month. This may point towards the possibility of increasing farmers’ income manifold [even more than 100%]. If, farmers of Punjab can do it, there is no reason why those in other states cannot come up. But,...
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Yogi – Modi onslaught on poverty

The just concluded assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh [UP] were fought in the backdrop of deteriorating law and order situation, hostile environment for investment, crumbling infrastructure [sans a few pockets in urban areas], widespread farmers distress, their high level of indebtedness and acute shortage of bare necessities viz. home, food, education, health, water and electricity. The poor investment climate and pathetic law and order discouraged industrialists and businessmen from setting up factories/shops even as existing establishments were facing closure. Together with farming being un-remunerative/losing proposition, this made a deadly cocktail leading to large-scale loss of jobs and in turn, migration of youth en mass to other states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat. Promises galore BJP led by Modi promised liberation...
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PM agri–insurance scheme – challenges ahead

Farmers in India are constantly under the threat of drought and other natural calamities such as floods, hailstorms, pest attacks etc leading to unprecedented loss of crop output. Unable to pay back loans [taken for growing crop], tens of thousands of them commit suicide every year. It is a national curse. The issue has been debated several times in the parliament wherein parliamentarians across the political spectrum pledge to put an end to it but things have so far remained at a standstill. The Pradhan Mantri Phasal Bima Yojna [PMPBY] launched by Modi – government early this year has come as a beacon of hope. Under PMPBY, a farmer will be compensated for the crop loss by paying small premium...
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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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Vanishing food stocks and bleeding banks

For the first time ever in the history of food procurement, storage, movement and distribution by state agencies, India has faced an unprecedented situation of hibernating food stocks worth Rs 20,000 crores in Punjab. The stocks were mostly funded using cash credit taken from a consortium of public sector banks [PSBs]. In an equally unprecedented move, the Reserve Bank of India [RBI] – the regulator of banks – has directed concerned PSBs to declare the mentioned loan as non-performing assets [NPAs] and accordingly make a provision of 7.5% during the quarter ending March 31, 2016 and another 7.5% during Qr ending June 30, 2016 for now. That adds to Rs 3000 crores [15% of Rs 20,000 crores] and will correspondingly...
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Agrarian crisis – all man made

Every now and then, one hears talk of agrarian distress and farmers committing suicide. They are heavily indebted and are unable to earn enough to make both ends meet and repay the loan. The average monthly income of farmer is about Rs 5000 whereas for many, it is even below Rs 2000. It is also a fact that the government spends gargantuan amounts on subsidizing agricultural inputs viz., fertilizers, seeds, irrigation etc and makes huge quantum of credit available to them through public sector banks [PSBs] at subsidized rate of interest. Yet another truth is that barring present dispensation under Modi, government of the day had granted sumptuous increase in minimum support price [MSP] – a bare minimum price that...
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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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