Panel for relook at Food Security Act

Panel for relook at Food Security Act

The NDA government-appointed panel has suggested a relook at the National Food Security Act to reduce the beneficiaries under the law from 67 per cent of the population to 40 per cent.

However, the High Level Committee (HLC) on restructuring of Food Corporation of India (FCI) favoured increasing the entitlement of subsidised foodgrains from 5 kg to 7 kg.

“Even before the (Lok Sabha) elections, many people in the BJP were of the opinion that 67 per cent was too high. Since the elections were due, it was felt that opposing it would affect the party’s prospects. Hence it was decided that once in power, we would have a re-look,” committee chairman and BJP MP Shanta Kumar told reporters here.

The committee has recommended outsourcing of key functions of the FCI to the state governments and private players and slash bonuses offered to farmers over and above the Minimum Support Price fixed by the Centre. Suggesting streamlining of procurement operations, the HLC said, “state level bonuses must be contained, taxes and statutory levies made uniform at three per cent of the MSP,  levies on rice millers abolished, and quality of grain to be adhered to through mechanical and transparent process.”

Deregulate fertiliser
The eight-member HLC, which presented its report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, has also recommended complete deregulation of the fertiliser sector by paying the subsidy amount to farmers in cash.

Modi has asked the Food Ministry to examine the HLC report. If the Centre decides to make changes to the food security law, it would be the second UPA flagship initiative to be amended by the government. Earlier, the Centre had amended the land acquisition law by promulgating an ordinance.