No plans to introduce universal PDS: Thomas
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 16:08
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.


First Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 16:08

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