Niti Aayog suggests policy measures to ensure subsidised foodgrains supply to needy

New Delhi: Niti Aayog has suggested policy measures to the food ministry that envisages various scenarios to ensure supply of subsidised foodgrains to the needy without “pinching” the union government’s fiscal resources, according to a senior official.
The scenarios, that have been constructed keeping in mind the National Food Security Act, 2013, have been made after the ministry had sought the advice of Niti Aayog amid increasing demand for subsidised foodgrains in certain states in view of rising population.
“The food ministry told us that states are asking to enhance the allocation of foodgrains because the population has increased in all the states.
“…the concern the ministry raised was that the food subsidy is rising at a very rapid rate. So, what kind of policy measure we should think (about), so that this food subsidy bill remains affordable. It does not become pinching on our fiscal resources,” Niti Aayog Member (Agriculture) Ramesh Chand told PTI.
He, however, added that the Food Ministry did not say that it wants to reduce the coverage of subsidised foodgrains under the National Food Security Act 2013.
NFSA, passed in 2013, provides for the supply of subsidised foodgrains through ration shops to up to 75 per cent of the rural population and up to 50 per cent of the urban population, which as per Census 2011, comes to a maximum of 81.35 crore persons.
At present, NFSA is operational in a seamless manner in all states and Union Territories, with an intended coverage of 81.35 crore persons across the country. Overall, NFSA caters to 67 per cent of the total population.
“So, Niti Aayog as a think tank just constructed different scenarios… Ok, one scenario is you continue with 2/3 (subsidised foodgrains to 67 per cent population).
“If you feel that between 2013 and now 2021, per capita income of people has increased by 40-50 per cent, then obviously the economic condition of many people have improved. So, we just looked at it from that angle,” Chand noted.
Coverage under the Act is provided under two categories — Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households to the extent specified by the central government and the remaining households as Priority Households.
The AAY households are entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains per household per month, while Priority Households are entitled to 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month at Rs 1-3 per kg through ration shops.
According to the Niti Aayog member, the second scenario is that, if it (coverage of people under NFSA) is brought down, then what will be its implication.

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