There is no provision for the proposed National Food Security Bill in the budget proposals for 2011-12.
The Bill will necessarily enhance the food subsidy as wheat and rice are to be made available at Rs.2 and Rs.3 a kg to the beneficiaries, but the budget does not reflect this.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee did make an announcement about bringing to Parliament the Bill “during the course of this year” but did not back it with any financial allocation.
“After detailed consultations with all stakeholders including State governments, we are close to finalising the National Food Security Bill which will be introduced in Parliament during the course of the year,” he said.
In fact, the provision for food subsidy to the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution for 2011-12 is marginally lower than the Revised Budget estimates for 2010-11.
The food subsidy for Revised Budget estimate (non-plan) for 2010-11 was Rs. 60,599.53 crore. This has been reduced in the budget proposals for 2011-12 to Rs. 60,572.98 crore. The 2010-11 budget outlay was to the tune of Rs. 55,578 crore.
The increase in the revised estimates was to ensure food subsidy to the Below Poverty Line population under the Targeted Distribution System, the increase in the minimum support price on foodgrains, the bonuses given on MSP, payments to States for decentralised procurement and on account of increased allotment of grains.
Asked about it during the customary press conference after the budget presentation, Union Finance Secretary Sushma Nath said there was “rollover” money to the tune of Rs.12,000 crore from last year.
She said the contours of the proposed Bill were being worked out.