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Food bill burden won't be big: Thomas

NEW DELHI: The proposed National Food Security Bill (NFSB) will not entail "large" financial implications for the government, Minister of State for Food, Public Distribution and Cons

Published: 12th February 2012 05:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 05:54 PM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: The proposed National Food Security Bill (NFSB) will not entail "large" financial implications for the government, Minister of State for Food, Public Distribution and Consumer Affairs K.V. Thomas said Sunday.

"The additional financial implication of the NFSB is not going to be large," said Thomas at the All-India Editors' Conference on Social Sector Issues (ECSSI) in Puducherry Saturday, according to an official release.

Explaining his point, the minister said that with the current coverage and entitlement and taking into account estimated allocations under other welfare schemes, the food subsidy bill for financial year 2012-13 is expected to be about Rs.88,997 crore.

The major impact of NFSB will be in terms of food subsidy, which is estimated to be additional Rs.23,228 crore in 2012-13, he said.

According to Thomas, if the government were to just update the coverage under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) using 2011 census provisional data, the food subsidy will be Rs. 109,795 crore.

With the estimated subsidy requirement under the NFSB at Rs.112,205 crore, the minister said this was an addition of just Rs.2,410 crore.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said he was "losing sleep" over the rising subsidy bill of the country, including the proposed right to food law.

Thomas further said the perception of some states that the coverage under TPDS provided in the bill is restrictive and will come in the way of universal PDS being implemented by them is misplaced.

He said the rural development ministry and Planning Commission will consult the states to arrive at a consensus on the methodology that will seek to ensure that no poor or deprived household is excluded from coverage under different government programmes and schemes.

The National Food Security Bill, a dream project of United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, is currently before a parliamentary standing committee.



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