NATIONAL

Pranab-led EGoM clears crucial Food Security Bill

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on Food on Monday cleared the crucial Food Security Bill, which seeks to entitle 75 per cent of the BPL (below poverty line) population and 50 per cent of the urban population to heavily subsidised food grains. It also lifted the ban on export of non-basmati rice.

The EGoM, chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, paved the way for the Law Ministry to frame the Bill, which the government aims to introduce during the monsoon session of Parliament. The decision entitles 68 per cent of the country's population to food security.

The Centre intends to take the Chief Ministers into confidence on the issue as the States would be pivotal to the implementation of the measures. A conference of Chief Ministers is likely to be held in this regard. Each beneficiary under the BPL (now referred to as priority sector) will be given 7 kg of food grains — rice will be provided at Rs. 3 a kg and wheat at Rs. 2.

As for the general category (above poverty line), each identified beneficiary will be given 3-4 kg at half the minimum support price at which the government procures rice and wheat from farmers.

The government estimates the additional subsidy burden at Rs. 13,000 crore, taking its total subsidy bill on food to about Rs. 95,000 crore. Lifting the ban on export of non-basmati rice, the EGoM allowed export of one million tonnes of staple rice in view of record production and overflowing godowns.

It, however, deferred a decision on opening the doors for export of wheat, though the proposal was to allow sale of two million tonnes in the international market.



Decision entitles 68 % of people to food security

Ban on export of non-basmati rice lifted


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