Crucial ordinance on Food Security Bill deferred

The Union Cabinet on Thursday deferred a decision to promulgate an ordinance to push through the Food Security Bill due to lack of consensus.

Updated: Jun 13, 2013, 13:15 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Thursday deferred a decision to promulgate an ordinance to push through the Food Security Bill due to lack of consensus.

The government will now try to convince the opposition parties to evolve a consensus on the crucial bill so that it could be passed in the special session of Parliament.

“We would like to make one more effort to ask opposition parties whether they would like to support bill,” Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram said while referring to the Food Security Bill

“Food Security Bill is ready. The Bill will be passed in the special session of Parliament,” Chidambaram reiterated.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Food
Minister KV Thomas will meet Opposition party leaders to convince them and seek their support on passing of Food Security Bill.

The Food Security Bill promises subsidized food grains for 75% rural household and maternity benefit to pregnant and lactating mothers.

During today’s meeting the Union Cabinet was expected to take up an ordinance to push through the Food Security Bill, which is the brainchild of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The constant disruptions by the Opposition in Parliament had resulted in a delay in passing the Food Security Bill so far.

The government had earlier decided to promulgate an ordinance to make Food Security Bill a law without taking prior approval from Parliament.

This decision by the government has been strongly objected to by the opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left.
Senior CPM leader Nilotpal Basu said, "A bill that`s so important to national life is being passed through an ordinance. It`s shameful and can`t be a worse advertisement of parliamentary system."

Lok Sabha Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the BJP wanted the bill and was okay with a special session of Parliament, but it is opposed to an ordinance on the same.

The Food Security Bill seeks to provide food security to 75 per cent people in rural areas and 50 per cent in urban areas by providing subsidised rice at Rs 3 per kg, less than 10 per cent of current retail prices, and wheat at Rs. 2 a kilo. Detractors argue the Bill excludes a large chunk of people who need food at subsidised rates and so it should be made universal.
The bill also provides for Food Security Allowance in case the government fails to give cheap food. The Opposition however says this will give a back door entry to cash transfers in Public Distribution System.

The bill will guarantee at least 25 kilograms of subsidised food grains every month to a family of 5 persons. The opposition argues that many states already guarantee 35 kilogram of food grains for Below the Poverty Line (BPL) families.

Questions have also been raised about the government being able to manage the funds to push through this scheme.

With PTI inputs