New Delhi: To fix "huge" leaks in the public distribution system, the government must give food vouchers instead of subsidised foodgrain to families under the below poverty line (BPL), industry body Ficci said on Sunday.
The chamber noted that food stamps, which are secure pieces of paper issued for the purchase of a wide range of food items, are being offered to the poor in many other
"Ficci has suggested provision of food stamps directly to BPL families, instead of subsidised food that is plagued with huge leakages," the industry body said in a statement.
"...such stamps be introduced in India, particularly in view of the wide criticism of PDS for its failure to serve the BPL population, its urban bias, negligible coverage, and lack
of transparent and accountable arrangements for delivery," it said in a study on revamping the PDS.
Food stamps, which constitute direct income transfers to the poor and disadvantaged, would be more efficient than the system of price subsidy, the chamber observed.
However, Ficci said that the issuance of food stamps should be coupled with compulsory participation of adult members of BPL families in social sector schemes.
Issuance of food stamps will provide an incentive to BPL adult members for participating in developmental work and, at the same time, protect them and their families from rising
food prices, it added.
The latest data on wholesale prices showed that during the last 13 months, the price of pulses went up by 33.65 percent, rice by 7.72 percent, wheat by 4.74 percent, cereals
by 6.37 percent, milk by 21.12 percent and fruits by 17 percent.
However, before introducing the stamps, the government
should first properly identify the target group and then put a
functional mechanism in place.
At present, the government provides 35 kg of foodgrains per month to 6.52 crore BPL families at a subsidised price.