CHENNAI: Expressing concern over the restriction of subsidy for sugar to Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) beneficiaries, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend the coverage of subsidised sugar to all priority households.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, he also said the subsidy should be enhanced from Rs 18.50 to at least Rs 28.50 by taking into consideration the present market rate of sugar at Rs 42 per kg and assist the State government in protecting the current scale of supply in the State.
“The Centre has restricted the subsidy at the rate of Rs 18.50 per kg of sugar to AAY beneficiaries only and also the scale of supply has been restricted to one kg per family per month,” the Chief Minister said and pointed out that priority households (PHH) under the National Food Security Act, 2013 had been identified following very stringent guidelines and they represented the most vulnerable sections of society.
Explaining the rationale behind his demand, the Chief Minister said the rate of subsidy i.e. Rs 18.50 per kg was fixed in the year 2002, when the market rate of sugar was Rs 32 per kg. Accordingly, the issue price at the fair price shop was fixed as Rs 13.50 with a view to distributing sugar under the Public Distribution System at no cost on the State government. “Now, the market rate of sugar has gone upto Rs 42 per kg and the State government has all along borne this additional expenditure of approximately Rs 10 per kg.
Therefore, the level of subsidy, which was fixed way back in 2002, may be revised at least as Rs 28.50 per kg of sugar,” Palaniswami added.
He said the supply has also been restricted to only one kg per family, which was very low keeping in view the average family size of approximately four persons in Tamil Nadu. The State government had been distributing sugar at the scale of 0.5 kg per person subject to a ceiling of two kg per card.
Stating that it might not be desirable to bring down the current scale of supply among the poorest of the poor, he said the present scale of supply should be protected.