Government plans ‘monitoring system’ on food subsidy

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) The government is considering setting up a ‘monitoring system’ to ensure effective utilisation of the food subsidy given to the states under the targeted public distribution system (TPDS).

‘The central government is providing Rs.60,000 crore food subsidy to the states per year to effectively implement the TPDS. So far, there is not a system to know how the states utilise this amount. So the government is seriously considering a proposal to have a monitoring system,’ a highly placed source in the government told IANS.

The proposal would be discussed at the state food secretaries’ meet here this month, said the source.

Under the TPDS, states are required to formulate and implement foolproof arrangements for identification of the poor for delivery of food grains and for its distribution in a transparent and accountable manner at the level of fair price shops.

It is learned that the government is planning to strengthen the TDPS, involving the local bodies.

The government’s draft food security bill says that ‘under the TPDS, it shall be the responsibility of the state governments to identify, without inclusion or exclusion errors, eligible BPL (below poverty line) families’ as per the number fixed by the central government.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh last Tuesday signalled his government’s intent to move to a system of direct transfer of subsidies to the poor.

‘This (unique identification) project will provide a platform for direct transfer of benefits and subsidies to the poor and will be an important instrument to expand financial inclusion,’ Singh said, presenting the report card for the first year of the second United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The draft Bill, approved by the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) recently, had offered 25 kgs of foodgrains to BPL families. This had drawn criticism from several quarters, including the Opposition and a section of the UPA.

The National Advisory Council, headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, has now sought a change in the proposed bill that raises the monthly allocation of foodgrains to the poor from 25 to 35 kgs.

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