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Formula for PDS universalisation
To ensure minimum availability of food grains to all, C Rangarajan has suggested people above poverty line (APL) should be considered for the food security scheme at prices different from those for people below the poverty line(BPL).

 New Delhi: Just a day before the National Advisory Council (NAC) meets to discuss the universalisation of public distribution system (PDS) under the proposed food security act, the Prime Minister's chief economic advisor, C Rangarajan has suggested a compromise formula for making the proposed Bill workable.

 

Addressing two-day meeting of state chief secretaries to discuss reforming Public Distribution System (PDS), Rangarajan said 'those who are in favour of universalisation of PDS feel that the distinction between BPL and APL is very thin and therefore we should cover all households'.

 

 However, he noted that despite the desirability of such an arrangement, it is an 'impossible task' given the present level of production and procurement of foodgrains. Alternately, he suggested that people above the poverty line can also be considered for the UPA government proposed food security scheme under which subsidized foodgrains will be available at ration shops as a legal right.

 

“Another alternative that one can think of is to give to the BPL households 30 kg per month and to APL households 15 kg per month. This will in a way ensure that all households will be assured of some minimum availability of foodgrains,” Rangarajan said.

 

He noted that there would have to be different prices for BPL and APL households in order to keep the subsidy burden under control.

 

The Food Security Act as proposed by the UPA government assures essential foodgrains such as rice and wheat at Rs 3 a kg to BPL families as a matter of legal right. However the quantity of foodgrains to be allotted under the act is yet to be finalised.

 

Meanwhile, echoing similar views, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar also said at present the government through Food Corporation of India (FCI) procures close to 30% of the total rice and wheat production in the country. “We can not go beyond the current level procurement as any increase in procurement would result in increase in prices,” Pawar told reporters.

 

Meanwhile, after the two days conference of food secretaries, it was agreed upon to strengthen the existing PDS through various measures such as delivery of foodgrains to fair price shops for a particular month by the end of the previous month, revised identification of PDS beneficiaries, doorstep delivery of foodgrains and allowing fair price shops to sell non-PDS items. Besides, the conference stressed upon use of IT in PDS on a priority basis through computerisation of the TPDS network.

 

 

 

Source: The Financial Express