Apart from attacking the government for “misusing” its powers for promulgating an ordinance for ensuring food security entitlement, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Monday dubbed the scheme as a repackage of all food programmes sponsored by the Centre.
Moving the statutory resolution disapproving the National Food Security Ordinance promulgated on July 5, 2013, which paved the way for the enactment of the National Food Security Bill, Mr. Jaitley said the promulgation of the ordinance was a misuse of legislative power in the absence of any urgency to go for it.
He wondered why the government could not wait for Parliament when nothing could have been achieved in the interregnum given that the list of eligible households would be prepared in 365 days till which period the present schemes would prevail.
He said the ordinance was a political decision but not one which the Constitution permitted, and the promulgation of the ordinance was a symbolic exercise.
Pointing out that most of the functions were to be executed by the State governments, Mr. Jaitley said most States had also written to the Centre about the peculiarities that suited them and that they had better and superior schemes with which they intended to continue.
He called for flexibility, saying the Centre was only providing grains while most States were providing higher nutritional package at lower prices than the one offered by it. He demanded that each State should be allowed to have their separate laws.
There would not only be no extra financial burden but it would cut down the number of beneficiaries, he contended, quoting government figures and budgetary allocations for the current fiscal.
The upper limit was caped at 75 per cent beneficiaries in the rural areas while it would be limited to 50 per cent in the urban localities, he stressed, claiming it would cover 81.37 crore people, lower than the 82.99 crore being covered currently.
The budgetary provisions for all food schemes in the current financial year is Rs. 1.24 lakh crore, while Minister of Food and Consumer Affairs K.V. Thomas had put the burden of implementing the scheme at Rs. 1.25 lakh crore.