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Centre consulting states on Food Bill: President Patil

Last Updated: Monday, February 21, 2011 - 12:54

New Delhi: President Pratiba Patil Monday
said the Centre is consulting state governments on the proposed National Food Security Act (NFSA), which will give the poor a legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains.

"The states are being consulted as the success of the
programme (NFSA) hinges critically on their commitment to
reforms in the public distribution system (PDS)," Patil said
in her address to Parliament to mark the beginning of the
Budget Session.

The government has received important inputs on the
proposed Act from the National Advisory Council (NAC), headed
by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, she said.

"I had announced earlier my government`s commitment to
bring forward the NFSA that will entitle statutorily every
family below the poverty line to foodgrains at highly
subsidised prices. Important inputs in this regard have been
received from the NAC," the President said.

The UPA government had announced in 2009 that it will
come out with a food security law under which a fixed quantity
of rice or wheat will be provided at subsidised price each
month to the poor.

Currently, a draft Food Bill is under preparation and
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently said it will soon be
tabled in Parliament.

The NAC has submitted its suggestions on the proposed
Bill to the government and the same has been examined by the
PM`s panel, headed by PMEAC Chairman C Rangarajan.

There is a difference of opinion over the number of
beneficiaries to be covered under the law and the government
is yet to take a final view on the issue.

While the NAC has suggested providing subsidised
foodgrains to 75 per cent of the country`s population,
including priority and general households, the Rangarajan
Committee is of the view that it will only be feasible to
cover `priority` households, which it had identified as 46 per
cent of the rural population and 28 per cent of urban India.
Pointing out that inflation has been "a problem in the
past year", Patil said the long-term solution lies in raising
production and the productivity of agri-crops.

She listed "combating inflation" as one of the top
priorities for the government in 2011-12.

The President highlighted that the government has
provided huge incentives to farmers by hiking the minimum
support price (MSP) for various agricultural products sharply,
as well as farm credit flows.

Citing examples, Patil said the paddy MSP has been raised
from Rs 550 per quintal to Rs 1,000 and that of wheat from Rs
630 per quintal to Rs 1,120 over a six-year period.


First Published: Monday, February 21, 2011 - 12:54
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