NEW DELHI: The government is likely to give an extension to Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) by another three months, as per government sources.
The decision will be taken up in the cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The scheme, launched in March 2020, will expire this month. Under the scheme, 5 kgs of foodgrains are provided to the poor for free of cost.
The scheme was launched when Covid pandemic had hit the country in 2020, impacting many poor people. The Centre extended the scheme many times and last time it was again extended for six months till September 30.
The extension of the scheme is significant on the backdrop of reports that the expenditure department of the finance ministry had raised concerns over the earlier extension of the scheme in March 2022. The expenditure department of the finance ministry had reportedly advised the government against extending the scheme beyond March 2022 due to the fiscal situation of the country.
So far, more than 80 crore beneficiaries have been provided food grains under the scheme since it was launched. The government has spent nearly `3.4 lakh crore on this scheme. The centre provides free food grains over and above the normal quota given under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) at a highly subsidised rate of Rs 2-3 per kg.
The centre had first announced the PMGKAY scheme only for a period of three months in 2020 - April, May and June. Later, it extended the scheme from July to November 2020. Then in April 2021, it re-launched the scheme for the third time for a period of two months of May and June 2021. It was again extended for another five months from July to November 2021. Then, again for the fifth time it was extended from December 2021 to March 2022.