Amendments in the National Food Security Bill Introduced in the Lok Sabha
Ministry for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution introduced amendments in the National Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha
Ministry for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution introduced amendments in the National Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha on 9 May 2013 and placed the amended Bill for consideration and passing by the House. Based on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, the Government decided to move certain amendments to the Bill. These amendments seek to make the framework of the proposed legislation simpler, provide more flexibility to States/UTs in its implementation and to address some of the concerns raised by them.
Main amendments to the Bill are as under:
• Coverage and entitlement under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS): Instead of coverage of upto 75 percent of the rural population and upto 50 percent of the urban population under two categories of priority and general households with different entitlements and issue prices provided in the original Bill, there would be only one category of beneficiaries with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month.
• Protection of entitlements under Targeted Public Distribution System:The entitlement of Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, which constitute poorest of the poor will, however, be protected at 35 kg per household per month. It is also proposed to accept the recommendation of the Committee to protect the existing allocation of foodgrains to the States/UTs, subject to it being restricted to average annual offtake during last three years (2009-10 to 2011-12).
• State-wise coverage and identification of beneficiaries: Corresponding to coverage of 75 percent/50 percent of the rural/urban population at the all India level, State-wise coverage will be determined by the Planning Commission. The work of identification of eligible households is proposed to be left to the States/UTs, which may frame their own criteria or use the Social Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data.
• Subsidized Prices under TDPS and their revision: Uniform prices of 3/2/1 rupees per kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains will be applicable to all eligible beneficiaries. It is proposed to fix these prices for the first three years of implementation of the Act, and thereafter link the same suitably to MSP.
• Cost of intra-State transportation & handling of foodgrains and FPS Dealers’ margin: In order to address the concerns of States/UTs regarding additional financial burden, it is proposed that Central Government may provide assistance to States towards cost of intra-State transportation, handling of foodgrains and FPS Dealers’ margin, for which norms will be devised.
• Maternity benefit: It is proposed to allow States/UTs to use the existing machinery of District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO), State Food Commission, if they so desire, to save expenditure on establishment of new set up.
• The National Food Security Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 22 December 2011 to addresses the issue of food security in a comprehensive manner, by adopting a life cycle approach. The Bill was introduced after a wide-ranging consultation with various stakeholders.
After introduction, the Bill was referred to Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, who interacted with other Central Ministries, various other organizations and individuals and visited States before submitting its report to the Speaker, Lok Sabha on 17 January 2013. The recommendations of the Standing Committee were examined in consultation with concerned Central Ministries and also with the Food Ministers and Food Secretaries of States/UT.
At the coverage and entitlement now proposed, total estimated annual foodgrains requirement is 612.3 lakh tons and the corresponding estimated food subsidy for implementation of NFSB, at 2013-14 costs, is about 124747 crore rupees. When compared to the estimated food subsidy requirement under existing TDPS and Other Welfare Schemes, the additional food subsidy implication is about 23800 crore rupees per annum. Requirement for assistance to States for meeting the expenditure on Transportation, Handling and FPS Dealers’ margin, etc., would be additional.