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Govt has no plans to bring Ordinance on Food Bill: Thomas

May 5, 2013, PTI 12:01 IST
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The government has no plans to take the Ordinance route to implement the UPA government’s ambitious National Food Security Bill, in case it fails to ensure its passage in the current session of Parliament that has been marred by frequent disruptions.

“Issuing an Ordinance is not a remedy and would like to see discussion taking place and the bill is passed in Parliament with everyone’s support,” Food Minister K.V. Thomas told PTI.

Mr. Thomas, who has been pushing hard for early passage of the bill that is seen as a game-changer for the UPA in view of the forthcoming general elections, said that an Ordinance would not serve the purpose of giving a “legal right” to a beneficiary over subsidised foodgrains.

Food bill, the pet project of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, aims to give legal right over an uniform quantity of 5 kg foodgrains at a fixed price of Rs 1-3 per kg via ration shops to 67 per cent of the population.

Mr. Thomas said: “If an Ordinance is not replaced with a Act, then the beneficiaries will lose their legal right and the entire Public Distribution System (PDS) would get affected.”

He further said that the Bill could be implemented through an executive order to an extent of supplying 5 kg of foodgrains to each person at a highly subsidised rate. “But an executive order will not ensure the legal right.”

The Food Bill is listed on the Parliamentary business schedule for Monday and Tuesday. “I hope Parliament functions smoothly and the bill comes up for discussion,” he said.

This is a “rare bill” which has got unanimous support from the Parliamentary Standing Committee and all parties except the CPI(M), he added.

Last week, the amendments to the Food Bill, which was originally introduced in Parliament in December, 2011, was moved in the Lok Sabha but discussion could not take place due to disruption of proceedings in both Houses by the Opposition on several issues, including ‘coalgate scam.’

The second phase of the Budget Session has failed to transact any business, except the passage of the Finance Bill and Railway Budget without detailed debate following walkout by the Opposition.

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