Friday, November 26, 2010

Draft framework of Food Security Bill ready

The National Advisory Council, headed by Sonia Gandhi, on Friday discussed the draft framework of the Food Security Bill which aims at providing differential legal entitlements of foodgrains.

Harsh Mander, the convenor of the Working Group on Food Security Bill, made a presentation on the first draft. Since the meeting was brief, members could not discuss the document “line-by-line.”

Earlier this month, the NAC had handed over a “concept paper” on the Food Security Bill to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Dr. Singh had asked his Economic Advisory Council to go through the document and send its comments by December 20, an NAC member said on November 26.

“In our effort to help the government fast track the process, the NAC in the meantime has drafted a framework for the Food Security Bill...the bill was presented before the Council,” another member said.

The Working Group on the Bill will carry out “intensive discussion” on the 40-page document on December 10. “In the meantime, we expect the feedback from the PM’s Economic Advisory Council and will incorporate the changes and suggestions made by it... we hope to possibly finalise the draft bill in the next NAC meeting on December 21,” the member said.

He said final drafting will be made by the concerned ministry in consultation with the Law Ministry before it is put before the Union Cabinet.

At its previous meeting, the NAC had recommended having differential legal entitlements of foodgrains.

The NAC had also decided to set aside the BPL criteria and suggested two broad categories — priority and general — eligible for legal foodgrain entitlement under the proposed food security law.

As per the recommendations, those under the ‘priority’ category will have a monthly entitlement of Rs 35 kg foodgrains at a subsidised price of Re 1 per kg for millets, Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Rs 3 per kg for rice.

The ‘general’ category households will have a legal monthly entitlement of 20 kg of foodgrains at a price not exceeding 50 per cent of the Minimum Support Price.