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Cabinet may discuss revised Food Bill, sugar decontrol this week

Last Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 - 15:52

New Delhi: The government is likely to consider this week major amendments to the Food Security Bill and also discuss a proposal on sugar decontrol.

"The changes proposed to Food Bill have been circulated to concerned ministry for consultation. The revised bill may come before the Cabinet this week," Food Minister K V Thomas told reporters here Monday.

The amendments to the Bill have been suggested after taking into account the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, he added.

In the original Bill, introduced in December 2011 in the Lok Sabha, the government had proposed giving 7 kg of wheat (Rs 2/kg) and rice (Rs 3/kg) per month per person to 'priority households', while at least 3 kg of foodgrain at half of the government fixed support price was proposed for the 'general' households.

According to sources, more than 55 amendments have been proposed to the Bill. Major changes include: doing away with priority and general classifications of beneficiaries and provide uniform allocation of 5 kg foodgrains (per person) at fixed rates to 67-70 percent of the country's population.

Protection to 2.43 crore poorest of poor families under the AnMondaya Anna Yojana (AAY) by continuing supply of 35 kg foodgrains per month per family. That apart, nutritional support to pregnant women without limitation are among other changes proposed in the Bill.

On sugar decontrol, Thomas said that the proposal on removal of levy sugar obligation may come before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) this week.

Under the levy sugar system, mills are required to sell 10 percent of their output to the Centre at cheaper rates to run ration shops, costing Rs 3,000 crore to industry annually.

The proposal is that once this obligation is removed, the government would buy sugar from the open market and continue to sell at a subsidised price through ration shops.

The financial burden would be offset by either raising excise duty on sugar or tweaking export and import duties on the sweetener, the minister added.

In October 2012, the expert panel headed by PMEAC Chairman C Rangarajan had recommended immediate removal of two major controls - regulated release mechanism and levy sugar obligation.


First Published: Monday, March 11, 2013 - 15:52
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