Parliamentary Panel Submits Report On Food Bill

NEW DELHI (TIP): After several delays and hiccups, a parliamentary standing committee on January 17 submitted its report on the UPA government’s ambitious Food Security Bill. It has suggested that the legislation should ensure supply of 5 kg wheat and rice to all beneficiaries at a uniform price of Rs 3 and Rs 2 per kg, respectively. The panel, headed by Congress Lok Sabha member Vilas Muttemwar, has done away with the proposal that the price and quantity of the food grains sold to the poor and the general public be priced separately. The Food Bill, which has been under scrutiny by the standing committee for nearly a year, that proposed that BPL families be given 7 kg wheat and rice at Rs 3 and Rs 2, respectively, while non- BPL families were to get 3 kg food grains at the price fixed by the government, which is about Rs 7 per kg for wheat and Rs 10 per kg for rice.

However, the standing committee has suggested that all beneficiaries be provided 5 kgs of wheat and rice at a uniform rate of Rs 3 and 2 per kg. “There should be no general and priority household categories, only inclusion and exclusion,” Muttemwar said. The panel felt there should be a single category of beneficiaries with uniform entitlement. The recommendations were submitted to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today. The government would now study the suggestions and finalise the legislation so that it could be passed in the Budget session of Parliament in February. The Food Security Bill was promised by the Congress in its 2009 election manifesto and is said to be party president Sonia Gandhi’s pet project and billed as UPAII’s flagship programme.

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