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Pawar has other ideas on food security bill

posted Nov 1, 2011, 3:31 AM by Puneet Goyal
New Delhi, Oct 19, DHNS:

Even as the Congress is keen to push the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s agendas in social sector to redeem its image, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar struck a discordant note, reiterating his reservation over the proposed National Food Security Bill.

Pawar, who leads the UPA-constituent Nationalist Congress Party, said that the prices of the food-grains to be provided to people under the proposed legislation should be carefully decided as it would substantially raise the subsidy burden on the government.He also said that the legal entitlement to subsidised and cheap food-grains should not be generalised and be restricted to the targeted beneficiaries in the poor and under-privileged sections of the society.

“Many have shared apprehensions with me on the issue of providing cereals at Re 1 per kg (as proposed under the draft Bill). If the Government buys Jowar at Rs 30 and sell at Re 1 per kg, I think it will affect the country’s economy,” he said.He added that the subsidised food-grains should reach the “really needy section”, but cautioned that the benefits should not be “generalised”.Pawar made the remark while addressing the Economic Editors’ Conference here on Wednesday.

He had on Tuesday created a flutter in Mumbai by airing in public his concerns over the financial burden that some of the populist “aam-aadmi” programmes of the Congress put on the government or were likely to do so.
He said in Mumbai that while Rs 40,000 crore was being spent for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Empl­o­yment Guarantee Progr­amme (MGNREGA) and fuel and fertiliser subsidy bills touching Rs 115,000 crore and Rs 80,000 crore respectively, it was difficult for the government to allocate adequate fund for development works.