There is no clarity on kerosene subsidies


With the Union government prohibiting the State government from distributing kerosene under the Public Distribution System (PDS) to traditional boat owners, the Fisheries Department is now looking for alternatives to continue the subsidies, which they say is “necessary” for the survival of the sector.

Between September and May, the government was procuring non-subsidised kerosene from the open market for Rs. 6.15 crore a month and distribute nearly 230 litres each to 3,800 boat owners in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts at subsidised rates.

K. Abhayachandra Jain, Minister of State for Fisheries, had said the government had sanctioned Rs. 63 crore to the Fisheries Department for the distribution of kerosene for the next nine months (subsidy is not given in June, July and August). However, officials are yet to receive the communication in full. “There has been no final decision on the amount released, or what to do with it,” said Veerappa Gowda, Director of Fisheries.

With little experience or know-how in procuring kerosene, he said the department might, in effect, outsource the procurement to the Department of Food and Civil Supplies. “We have asked for the same method of distribution, with only the budget coming from us and not from the Food and Civil Supplies Department,” he said, adding that no other alternative proposals had been sent to the government.

However, officials at the Department of Food and Civil Supplies are averse to the proposal. “We do not have the mandate to purchase from the open market. We won’t have control over black marketing or illegal sale of subsidised kerosene. We will be reduced to wholesale dealers,” said an official.

Instead, the official suggests that the Fisheries Department should take up the distribution of kerosene. “Fishermen have to get permits from the departments of Fisheries, Food and Civil Supplies and Port. Why not streamline it to one department?” asked the official.

With less than one-and-a-half months left for the distribution of subsidy, fishermen’s organisations warned against laxity that might lead to delays. “Our subsidies were delayed in September last year…even the subsidies for May this year have not yet come in full,” said B.K. Vasudev, president of the Karavali Traditional Fishermen’s Association.

With the subsidised component coming to less then 30 per cent of the total fuel consumed, he said any reduction in subsidy or delay in distribution would hit the sector that was struggling to compete with bigger trawlers.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:52:01 AM |

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