Important Pointers on Food Security Bill

Food Secuirty Bill  Important pointers.

What’s the food security scheme? It provides for 5kg per person, per month, of rice, wheat or coarse grain. Proposes to cover 67% of India’s population or 82 crore people, 75% rural & 50% urban. The rates at which it will be given are 3 for rice, 2 for wheat & 1 for bajra, jowar. Cost of scheme approximately 1.3 lakh crore, up from current food subsidy bill of 75,000 crore in 2012-13. States to get one year for rollout

What about existing schemes? 
Some schemes subsumed: Antodaya Anna Yojana (for poorest of poor), midday meals, meals for children aged 6 months-2 years with their mothers, ICDS (for kids below 6). As of now, apart from state schemes, Centre provided cheap food to around 32 crore people under BPL. This jumps to 82 crore. Govt will need to procure 62 million tonnes of grain

When will the scheme roll out? 
There are some grey areas and missing links. States have to identify beneficiaries. This can be a problem as exclusion criteria not clear. Centre is to share transport and commission costs, which need to be worked out. Also govt admits to 20-35% leakage in PDS, which needs to be plugged. Ration cards reduced from 22 crore to 16 crore, but more needs to be done. Storage capacity needs to be augmented

What’s the impact on the economy? 
There will be a push on govt spending which will increase current account deficit – not desirable in present situation. There are also concerns that India’s procurement for the scheme could push up world food prices in case of drought and under-procurement

Does it make for great politics? 
So far states have cornered political benefits for cheap food grain. Now central govt will seek to gain the upper hand in this populist game. On election eve, this could help Congress

Source: Times of India

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