No plans to introduce universal PDS: Thomas

Government has no plans to introduce Universal Public Distribution System, Food Minister K V Thomas informed Parliament on Tuesday.

New Delhi: The government has no plans to
introduce Universal Public Distribution System (PDS) because
the attention on poor people will get diluted, Food Minister K
V Thomas informed Parliament on Tuesday.

"Though there have been requests for universal PDS,
government is not considering to introduce universal PDS as
the focus on poor will get diluted," Thomas said in a written
reply to the Lok Sabha.

To implement universal PDS, the government would require
to procure huge quantities of wheat and rice and this would
also result in less availability of foodgrains, leading to
rise in the open market prices, he noted.

The minister pointed out that shifting to universal PDS
"may result in below poverty line (BPL) and Antodaya Anna
Yojana (AAY) families getting reduced scale of foodgrains and
paying higher prices."

The scale of allocation to beneficiaries will have to be
reduced if the same quantity of food grains is to be
distributed equally among all, he said.

Further, in order to manage the level of food subsidy,
the central issue prices (CIP) of rice and wheat may have to
be increased substantially from the present level, Thomas
said, adding that CIP has been revised for last 9-11 years.

Currently, the government supplies up to 35 kg of
subsidised food grains every month through PDS to a targeted
population of over 18 crore.

For AAY families, rice and wheat are supplied at a lowest
price of Rs 1 and Rs 2 per kg, respectively. For BPL, wheat is
supplied at Rs 4.15 per kg and rice at Rs 5.65 per kg.

As far as above poverty line (APL) families are
concerned, the government supplies a minimum of 10 kg of
either wheat at Rs 6.10 per kg or rice at Rs 8.30 per kg.

The government is also coming up with a law to provide
legal entitlement over subsidised foodgrains to 63.5 per cent
of the country`s total population.

The proposed National Food Security Bill has been
introduced in the Lok Sabha and is being vetted by the
Parliamentary Standing Committee.