The Union government announced Friday that it would give free foodgrains to National Food Security Act, 2013, recipients as per their entitlement for a year starting in January 2023, combining fiscal responsibility and the need for a safety net. However, it has ended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, which was introduced in April 2020 during Covid-19 and gave every citizen with 5 kg of free food in addition to the 5 kg of food they were entitled to under the NFSA.
“Under the NFSA, the Central Government offers foodgrains to the public at the rates of Rs 3 per kg for rice, Rs 2 for wheat, and Rs 1 for coarse grains. In a press conference to inform media of the Cabinet choices, Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal stated that the Prime Minister has now made the historic decision to give food security to the needy for free across the country.
About 81.35 crore people are covered under the NFSA, and Goyal stated that the Centre would cover the full cost of Rs 2 lakh crore to ensure their food security. When asked if the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana would be discontinued, he responded, “It has been integrated” (with the NFSA). The NFSA now includes the gratuitous element of that plan. The entire 5 kg and 35 kg under the NFSA would now be provided without charge. No additional foodgrains are required.
The NFSA covers 75% of the population in rural areas and 50% of the population in urban areas. Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Families are the two types of recipient households under the NFSA. Priority homes receive foodgrains based on the number of family members, but AAY households are entitled to 35 kg of food per month regardless of the number of family members (each member 5 kg per month).
The NFSA would need to be changed, according to a representative who told The Indian Express that a notification was forthcoming.
softer after Covid
The poor will now have a “right” to get 5 kg of free foodgrains thanks to India’s new central food security legislation. Previously, the poor—about 81.34 crore people—paid a pittance of Rs 3 per kg for rice and Rs 2 per kg for wheat, with 75% of them residing in rural areas and 50% in urban areas. The decision lessens the impact of the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana’s impending termination by the end of the month on the underprivileged. In addition to the NFSA entitlement of 5 kg of foodgrains that were subsidised, the government also gave 5 kg of free foodgrains under PMGKAY.
According to December’s most recent allocation order, the NFSA requires 13.67 lakh metric tonnes of wheat and 31.72 lakh metric tonnes of rice. The PMGKAY required roughly 40 lakh metric tonnes per month (wheat: 7 lakh metric tonnes and rice: 33 lakh metric tonnes)
The sale of foodgrains that were subject to subsidies under the NFSA used to bring in Rs 13,900 crore for the government each year. With this increased expenditure, the entire cost of food security will increase to almost Rs 2 lakh crore. However, discontinuing the PMGKAY will result in annual savings for the government of Rs 1.8 lakh crore or Rs 15,000 crore.
The cessation of PMGKAY occurs when the supply of foodgrains has run out during the past few months. The Central pool’s stocks of wheat and rice (including unmilled paddy) were 190.27 lakh metric tonnes and 364 lakh metric tonnes, respectively, as of December 1, 2022. While the position of the rice stock is secure, that of the wheat stock is only slightly over the standards for buffer stock.
According to official figures, the government spent roughly Rs 3.45 lakh crore up to September, and the final extension of the scheme, for three months through December 2022, just before the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, is expected to increase the total outlay to Rs 3.91 lakh crore. The scheme’s overall allotment of foodgrains was 1,121 lakh metric tonnes.