Mumbai: The ruling Congress on Wednesday pledged to continue subsidising food and fertiliser to help the poor, despite the two varieties of subsidies projected to cost the government more than Rs90,000 crore this fiscal.
“It is now universally acknowledged that if you really want to help the poor, food must be subsidised,” home minister and senior party leader P Chidambaram said here.
Food subsidy in 2009-10 is estimated at Rs42,489 crore while the outgo on fertiliser has been put at Rs49,980 crore.
The Centre issues rice at Rs5.65 a kg and wheat at Rs4.15 per kg to states for supply through ration shops to 4.02 crore families below the poverty line. The 2.50 crore families covered under the Antodaya Anna Yojna (AAY) receive rice at Rs3 per kg and wheat at Rs2 per kg.
Chidambaram said only food and fertiliser deserve government subsidy in the country. “... if anything needs to be subsidised (in India) it is food and fertiliser.”
However, last month, to check the food subsidy bill, the Group of Ministers decided to freeze the quantities of rice and wheat to be supplied at discounted prices to families above the poverty line, at 13.6 lakh tonnes (combined) a month.