New Delhi: An empowered group of ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee decided to release an additional 500,000 tonnes of wheat and rice every month for sale to ration card holders for the next six months, according to agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.
The move is aimed at reining in prices and curbing inflation and will cost the government an estimated Rs2,000 crore. The group met on Wednesday to discuss foodgrain availability under the public distribution system, or PDS.
Supply plan: The Centre expects a bumper crop of 80 mt this year. Pankaj Nangia / Bloomberg
The government’s central procurement agency, the Food Corporation of India or FCI, distributes grain to the poor through ration shops under the PDS. Food inflation ruled at 16.61% for the week ended 17 April.
Pawar said wheat would be sold at Rs8.42 per kg and rice at Rs11.85. The grains would be sold at a price lower than the minimum support price (MSP) at which the government buys them from the market. The MSP for wheat and common variety of rice is Rs11 and Rs10.50 per kg, respectively.
Allthough rice output was hit in 2009-10 due to drought, the country procured 25.38 million tonnes (mt) of wheat and 33.68 mt of rice. The government expects a bumper wheat crop of over 80 mt this year. The wheat procurement period starts from April and ends in June.
According to a government official, who did not wish to be identified, the food security Bill was not part of the agenda for this meeting. Mint could not independently ascertain whether the Bill, which is also being discussed by the same group, was taken up for discussion.
‘PTI’ contributed to the story.