NAC sticks to stand on food security Bill

NAC sticks to stand on food security Bill

New Delhi: The National Advisory Council (NAC), which sets the social agenda of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, on Friday decided to stick to its stand on the proposed food security legislation, ignoring the suggestions of a panel led by C. Rangarajan, head of the Prime Minister’s economic advisory council on the Bill.

In a separate development, NAC member Jean Dreze quit the working group on food security, citing exhaustion. Dreze said in a text message he remained a member of NAC.

Earlier, Dreze had criticized the suggestions made by the Rangarajan panel. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had set up the panel to give its views on NAC’s recommendation to create a food security Act. Other members of the panel are chief economic adviser Kaushik Basu and Sudha Pillai, member secretary, Planning Commission.

NAC, in October, recommended that the government offer subsidized foodgrain to 75% of the country’s population—90% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas.

Under the proposal, priority households—46% in rural and 28% in urban areas—should have a monthly entitlement of 35kg of foodgrain at Rs1 per kg for millet, Rs2 per kg for wheat and Rs3 per kg for rice.

A PTI report quoted some NAC members as saying they had not received the panel’s recommendations.

“There is no formal reference from the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) or from the Rangarajan committee," an unnamed member said, adding NAC did deliberate on the panel recommendations that had appeared in the media.

“We are not in the business of reacting to the Rangarajan committee. The NAC recommendations on food security are in the public domain and we have invited suggestions on it. Let there be a debate on identifying the best way forward," the member said.