New Delhi: An expert committee set up by the Prime Minister to examine recommendations of National Advisory Council (NAC) on the proposed National food Security Bill is scheduled to hold its first meeting on 3 December.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has set up an expert committee to examine the NAC’s recommendations. The first meeting of this committee is going to be held on 3 December,” a senior government official told PTI.
NAC, headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, has recommended the government to grant a legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains to at least 75% of the country’s population under the proposed National Food Security Bill through a reformed PDS system from the next financial year.
The expert committee under C Rangarajan, head of the PM’s economic advisory council, will discuss “the feasibility of the recommendations made by the NAC”, the official said, adding that the committee would submit its report within a month.
The committee has members from food and agriculture ministry, finance ministry and the planning commission.
NAC has suggested a legal entitlement of subsidised foodgrains to two broad categories - priority and general - covering 90% of the rural population and 50% in urban areas.
The NAC has suggested the government to provide 35 kg of foodgrains a month to priority households at a subsidised rate of Rs1 per kg for millets, Rs2 for wheat and Rs3 for rice.
For the general category, the NAC has suggested supplying 20 kg of foodgrains at a price not exceeding 50% of the current support price, which comes to Rs5.50 for wheat and Rs 7.70per kg for rice.
At present, the government provides cheap foodgrains to 18.04 crore families, which includes 6.52 BPL families and 11.5 APL families, under the Public Distribution System (PDS). Offtake under the PDS in the last fiscal was 42.4 million tonnes.
According to the food ministry’s provisional estimate, the government will require about 62 million tonnes of foodgrains every year to implement the NAC’s recommendation.
The requirement of foodgrains is, however, more than the 54 million tonnes procured by the government last year, but is close to the record quantum of 59 million tonnes purchased in the previous year.