EGoM clears draft food security Bill

The draft Food Security Bill will "hopefully" go to the Cabinet next week, Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters after the eGoM meeting. The group headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, also decided to recommend to the Cabinet for increase in the quantity of foodgrain for the 11.5 crore families above poverty line through ration shops.

"Two items which will be taken to Cabinet are enhancing APL quota and the draft Food Security Bill," he said. The Congress had promised in its election manifesto that every BPL family would get, by law, 25 kg of rice or wheat per month at Rs 3 a kg.

Once the Cabinet approves the Bill, it will be put in the public domain for feedback before it goes to Parliament. The panel also extended duty-free import of pulses and the ban on their exports till March 2011, Pawar said.

PSUs such as MMTC and STC importing pulses would continue to get 15 per cent subsidy to cover the gap between the landed and selling price. The government had earlier allowed duty-free import of pulses till March 2010 to fight food inflation which is ruling at well over 16 per cent. Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry withdrew its proposal to hike the minimum export price (MEP) of basmati rice.

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