Zee Media Bueau
New Delhi: The UPA government on Friday strongly defended the ordinance on Food Security Bill and stressed that the scheme will tackle hunger and malnutrition in the country.
Addressing a joint press conference with Food Minister KV Thomas, Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken said the government, by bringing in an ordinance, has kept the promise it made to the electorate in 2009.
Government had – earlier in the week -issued the ordinance to give nation`s two-third population the right to get 5 kgs of foodgrains every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs 1-3 per kg. It was signed by President Pranab Mukherjee today and will be presented before the Parliament during the Monsoon Session.
“We had no option but to bring an ordinance, the Opposition does not want to discuss or pass this Bill in Parliament,” Maken said.
On the concerns that the Rs 1,24,723 crore Food Bill would lead to increase in fiscal budget, Maken stressed that there will be no financial pressure on the government.
He said Rs 90,000 cr of the Rs 1,24,723 crore proposed expenditure on the scheme has already been taken into account in the budget. Hence the additional expenditure will be only Rs 23,800 crore.
“Rs 23,800 crore additional burden on exchequer won`t hamper fiscal deficit or affect financial management of the country,” he said.
Maken said that the scheme will benefit crores of people and will help in the battle against malnutrition and hunger.
The Food Security programme when implemented will be the biggest in the world with the government spending estimated at Rs 125,000 crore annually on supply of about 62 million tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse cereals to 67 per cent of the population.