The landmark Food Security Bill which seeks to provide cheap foodgrains to 82 crore people in the country was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 26. The current food subsidy is estimated at Rs 1.13 lakh crore based on 2011 census. "However, the subsidy can come down if 25-30 per cent leakages are plugged by bringing reforms in PDS," Food Minister K V Thomas told PTI. The rupee fall has some impact on the economy but not food security programme, which has to be implemented in next 12 months, he said.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said the implementation of the Food Security Bill will not impact the fiscal deficit, which he is committed to contain at 4.8 per cent of the GDP. Food Bill was passed in the Lower House with ten amendments. An additional subsidy of Rs 10,000 crore would be required when states implement this programme in the next one year, he said.
Already, subsidised foodgrains is being distributed via ration shops as a welfare measure, but now it will be a legal entitlement, the Minister said. "We brought food security ordinance, and the Bill (in this regard) has been passed in the Lok Sabha. Nothing has changed in the Bill to affect the economy," Thomas asserted.
The government has 73 million tonnes of foodgrains in its godowns as against requirement of 62 million tonnes for the new programme, he said adding that more foodgrains would come with new harvest this year.