Subsidy to industries is Rs. 4.28 lakh crore while PDS accounts for Rs. 52,489 crore: Yechury

The taxes forgone by the Centre annually, largely to big industrial houses, is about nine times the total allocation for food subsidies, said Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, calling for a rationalisation of economic priorities to check the growing food insecurity.

Speaking at the inauguration of the campaign on food security organised by the Left parties here on Monday, he said that while the taxes forgone through subsidies to corporates was Rs. 4,28,000 crore annually, the allocation for Public Distribution System was Rs. 52,489 crore.

Countering the argument that the Government did not have enough money to allocate more for the PDS, he said that “collecting taxes legitimately due to the Government from the rich” would go a long way in correcting the imbalance.

Mr. Yechury said that India was split into “shining India” and “suffering India”. While the number of billionaires in India had surpassed the number in Japan, 77 per cent of people lived on Rs. 20 a day, he said. “Malnutrition is the single largest killer,” he added.

With about two-thirds of India facing drought and States like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh hit by floods, food crisis was worsening and needed to be addressed immediately, he said.

But on the contrary, the Government was doing the opposite by allowing speculative trading in essential commodities, leading to spiralling of prices.

Speculative trading

He said that speculative trading in essential commodities in the Bombay Commodity Exchange for the month of June had touched Rs. 15 lakh crore. This practice, he added, should be banned.

The proposed Food Security Act, he said, would weaken PDS, by shrinking the extent of coverage and cutting on the amount allocated to each family.

“Today patriotism means saving India from hunger,” said Mr. Yechury.

Kerala example

C. Diwakaran, CPI leader and Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Kerala, added that the proposed Act would sabotage the existing PDS system. Kerala, he added, was supplying 13 essential commodities through PDS.

The price of rice for families was kept at Rs. 14 a kg, though Kerala produced only 15 per cent of the rice needed for the State.

Bangalore: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury said that reconstruction work in the flood-hit northern Karnataka districts should be done through Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act projects.

This, he said, would on the one hand ensure that contractors did not make money in the guise of rehabilitation and on the other hand generate jobs for those who lost their livelihoods. “This should be a specific demand in rehabilitation,” he said.

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