THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The shortage of subsidised essential items in Supplyco outlets and the hardship it has caused to around 40 lakh families resonated in the Assembly on Tuesday. The Opposition staged a walkout after its demand to discuss the issue through an adjournment motion was turned down.
Giving notice for the adjournment motion, Shafi Parmabil of the Congress urged the government to prevent Supplyco from going the "KSRTC way". Shafi said the government itself has admitted that total dues to Supplyco on account of market intervention was to the tune of Rs 1,507 crore.
Shafi said that in the 2023-24 fiscal, Rs 190 crore was earmarked for Supplyco but it was given only Rs 157 crore. Quoting figures tabled by the government in the Assembly, Shafi said Supplyco incurred a loss of Rs 879 crore through the distribution of 13 essential items with subsidised prices.
"In 2022-23 the government claimed that it had earmarked Rs 1,427 crore to Supplyco for procuring subsidy items. The next year, the support dwindled to Rs 565 crore. Within a year Rs 862 crore was slashed," he pointed out. Shafi also referred to media reports about criticism raised in the CPI state council meeting over the lack of government support to Supplyco and alleged extravagance in enhancing the facilities in the Chief Minister's official residence.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister G R Anil admitted that there has been a shortage of a few of the 13 essential items distributed by Supplyco. This was due to suppliers staying away on account of non-payment of pending dues to them. He assured that the government was engaged in efforts to address issues in Supplyco that have arisen due to its financial constraints.
"The government has devised a bill discounting system and also initiated discussions with banks to clear their arrears of the suppliers. Supporting Supplyco means providing relief to the common man and the government will not go back on that commitment," he assured the Assembly. The Minister also refuted the Opposition's charge that the issue was discussed in the CPI state council.
Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan alleged that Supplyco has failed miserably in carrying out its primary duty of market intervention. He said the shortage of essential items in Supplyco stores was unprecedented. He accused the government of trying to shut down Supplyco by denying financial support to it.