According to a statement released on Wednesday by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution, the Center has given its new free foodgrain programme authorised by the National Food Security Act of 2013 the name “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)”.
More than 80 crore poor and extremely poor individuals would begin to benefit from the new scheme from January 1, 2023, the ministry announced in a statement.
The new program’s name is the same as the free foodgrain programme that was launched as part of the Center’s Covid-19 package, which was unveiled in 2020. The difference between the two programmes, though, is that roughly 81 crore NFSA participants were eligible to receive an additional 5 kg of foodgrain each month, free of charge, on top of their monthly benefits. However, in order to acquire the amount for which they were eligible—35 kilogrammes every Antyoday Anna Yojana Household and 5 kg per person to a Priority Household per month—they were had to pay the subsidised rate of foodgrains (Rs 3 per kg rice, Rs 2 per kg wheat, and Rs 1 per kg coarse grains).
In the new programme, the government has eliminated the discounted rates and is giving away food grains for free for a year. However, the extra amount that was previously offered to these recipients during the Covid epidemic would no longer be given to them. According to the NFSA, they will receive the full amount of foodgrains to which they are entitled.
The action was taken a few days after the Union Cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the new integrated food security programme for beneficiaries of the Antodaya Anna Yojna (AAY) and Primary Household (PHH) under the NFSA to receive free foodgrains for a year beginning January 1, 2023.
The statement read, “Free foodgrains will be distributed under PMGKAY for the year 2023 to all PHH and AAY recipients, as per entitlement under the NFSA, keeping in mind the welfare of the beneficiaries and in order to preserve uniformity throughout the states.
In order to relieve the financial burden on the poor and the poorest of the poor, the Central Government will spend more than Rs 2 lakh crore on food subsidies under the NFSA and other welfare programmes in 2023, it was further said.
The NFSA, 2013, provisions of availability, affordability, and accessibility of foodgrains for the needy, it claimed, will be strengthened by the integrated system.
“Necessary steps have already been taken for smooth implementation of the PMGKAY in the field,” the statement read. “Necessary notification has been issued for making price of foodgrains zero for AAY and PHH beneficiaries, resolution of technical issues at Fair Price Shops (FPS), advisory related to margin to the Fair Price Shop Dealers, zero prices in the print receipts given to beneficiaries, etc.”
For a successful launch of the new programme, “Officers of the Department of Food & Public Distribution and FCI are routinely interacting with state government officers,” the statement read.