Country not prepared for bill, says Ficci

Industry body the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) in a statement on Thursday said that the country is not yet prepared for a Food Security Bill.

Ficci said the Bill has come at a time when the country is trying hard to get back on the path of fiscal consolidation.

“While there is no denying the fact that right to food and attaining proper nutrition should be the basic provision for every citizen in the country, but the recent announcement seems a little premature and that the country is not fully prepared to roll out such a program,” said Didar Singh, secretary-general, Ficci.

“The actual execution of the scheme would be marred by challenges, besides of course questioning the fiscal sustainability of the Bill. The Bill is expected to cost the exchequer about Rs 1,25,000 crore annually,” it stated.

“One of the biggest issues that comes to the fore is the access and it is quite surprising that the government is willing to fall on the old public distribution system (PDS) to allocate food grains under the Bill. The PDS has not been streamlined over the years and remains plagued with inefficiencies,” it said.

“Further, as 75 per cent of the rural population would be eligible for food grains under the Bill, most farmers would conveniently sell all grains at MSP (which is the most competitive) and again come to the government for their consumption,” the Ficci said.

“It is important that we resolve the supply demand mismatch and keeping in mind a long term perspective, we should focus on improving agricultural production and productivity,” Singh added.

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