The Consumerfed, running short of funds, has its task cut out with its burgeoning financial burden. With dues amounting to over Rs 400 crore yet to be paid by the government, the intervention programme of the Consumerfed, which includes providing essential commodities at reasonable rates, may prove to be a Herculean task.
“The financial burden of the Consumerfed is being managed through loans and profits collected from other ventures,” officials of the organisation said.
“The Consumerfed has always acted promptly at the government’s behest. However, when the organisation makes a plea for claims, to make up for the losses incurred by way of disbursing subsidised goods during festival seasons, the government fails to reciprocate,” sources said. The officials said that the government had promised Rs 90 crore for Onam and Rs 42 crore for Christmas for opening trade fairs for selling subsidised goods. “The government has yet to release the amount,” they added. The fund disbursed by the government so far amounts to just Rs 70 crore.
Recently, the government had requested the organisation to supply the Jaya variety of rice for Rs 21, Kuruva rice for Rs 21 and Rose rice for Rs 16 per kilogram. However, the government has failed to release the promised sum of Rs 25 crore for Consumerfed and Rs 50 crore for Supplyco. “With the delay, there is no respite to the mounting financial burden faced,” officials said.
Jaya rice is popular in South Kerala and Kuruva rice is popular in the north. The Rose variety is preferred in central Kerala.
“The Consumerfed has never compromised on the quality of rice varieties that have great market demand. But the wait for assistance can hamper operations,” sources cautioned. “We have presented the matter to the Finance Minister to expedite fund allocation,” said Joy Thomas, chairman, Consumerfed. C N Balakrishnan, the Minister for Co-operationseemed unfazed by the turmoil and emphasised on the Rs 70 crore that the government had disbursed.