The Centre will allocate additional quantities of wheat and rice for ration card holders at rates lower than the minimum support price (MSP), but higher that the issue price, under the public distribution system. The allocations would be made from June.

At the same time, the government on Wednesday allowed export of wheat products like rava, sooji and maida, much in demand by expatriate Indians, for a year till March 31, 2011. The earlier order for export of wheat products involving 6.5 lakh tonne of wheat had expired on March, 2010.

The decisions were approved by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Announcing this, Union Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said wheat would be made available to State governments at Rs.8.45 per kg, while rice would be priced at Rs.11.85 per kg. The MSP for wheat is set at Rs.11 per kg, while for paddy it is Rs.10.50 per kg for the common variety and Rs.10.80 per kg for grade-A variety.

A total of 30 lakh tonne of wheat and rice would be sold to ration card holders through State governments, involving an estimated subsidy of about Rs.2,000 crore in six months till November-end. It is proposed to give about 5 lakh tonne each month for six months from June.

“The EGoM today [on Wednesday] took a decision to give additional 5 lakh tonne wheat and rice every month to all card holders,” Mr. Pawar told journalists after the meeting.

He hoped that the off-take by States would be better than in the past, when high prices of the additional allocations discouraged States from lifting the wheat made available to them.

Allocations

At present, the government provides 35 kg rice and wheat to Below Poverty Line households every month and about 10 kg for the Above Poverty Line (APL) population. Additional allocations for APL are on ad hoc basis.

Earlier, to a question on de-control of sugar, Mr. Pawar said the sugar industry had sought de-control, but there was no such thinking at present. This would be looked into after assessing the stock situation in September and the monsoon position, he added.