Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi wants the Food Security Act to be rolled out this year., and the Finance Minister P Chidambaram is likely to oblige her by setting aside Rs 5,000 crore for the
implementation of the scheme,. The government is yet to build consensus on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing committee for the Bill.
UPA government had come back to power due to its highly ambitious scheme MNREGA in 2009 and the government's think tank had crafted the Food Security Bill to re-create the euphoria among the Masses that will go to polls in 2014. Ironically, MNREGA has constantly seen a
decline in its budgetary allocation over the past few years and it is expected to go down further, but Food Security Act, is expected to be launched even as some other welfare scheme take a back seat due to scanty resources.
“The government will take up the revised food Security Bill in the upcoming session of the Parliament and the recommendations of the Standing Committee will be incorporated in the Bill. Though there are some differences over the bill, but we will be able to role out the scheme by enacting the act,” said a government official close to the development.
The government had allocated Rs 75,000 crore for food subsidy in 2012-13. While the overall cost of implementing Food Subsidy Act is estimated to be Rs 1,20,000 crore, the government wants to show its commitment to implement the scheme by earmarking Rs 5,000 crore in the
budget. In case, the Bill gets passed in the Parliament, the government will make further provisions for the bill.
DNA had reported earlier that due to tight fiscal situation, the Finance Ministry has decided to reduce the allocation of Ministries like Rural development that run world's largest employment providing scheme MNREGA.However, the implementation of Food Security Act is on
government's final year agenda as it can win the rural vote bank in favour of the UPA.
Currently Parliament's Standing Committee on Food, consumer affairs and public has recommended that the population to be covered under Targeted Public Distribution System should be under a single category with uniform entitlements of 5 kg per person per month. Earlier there were many different categories for entitlement. The committee has recommended Rs 3 per Kg for wheat and Rs 2 per kG for rice under the scheme.
While most of the non-Congress states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal have opposed to the recommendations of the standing committee, the government is hopeful to clinch the deal with the states government in the final year of its tenure.