Government to meet shortfall through commodities exchange

With the Centre refusing to provide additional rice, the State government, hell bent on keeping its electoral promise of providing 30 kg rice at Re. 1 a kg to the poor, is considering external procurement to meet the shortfall.

Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao held a series of meetings here on Monday with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and department officials to finalise the modalities for additional procurement. Mr. Rao told The Hindu that the modalities have almost been finalised and the department has recommended procurement of rice through commodities exchange.

“The modalities are for rolling out the final scheme from July onwards. The matter will be placed before the Cabinet and after approval, the scheme will formally be rolled out,” Mr. Rao said. If for any reason, the rice required for July cannot be procured through the exchange, it has been decided to buy it from corporations of neighbouring State governments, he added.

According to Mr. Rao, there are 87 lakh below poverty line ration card-holders and 11 lakh Antyodaya card-holders eligible to get 30 kg rice at Re. 1 per month. The total present requirement of rice through public distribution system (PDS) in the State is about 2.7 lakh tonnes a month [after the decision to provide 10 kg extra rice to these poor families]. However, the supply from the Central government is only about 1.8 lakh tonnes. There is a need to procure about 90,000 tonnes externally, he said.

Mr. Rao said commodities exchange was preferred as there would be transparency in the dealings.

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