Free foodgrain distribution for a year under National Food Security Act (NFSA)
As determined by the cabinet last week, the Centre has notified free foodgrain distribution for a year under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
‘The Central Government hereby resolves that rice, wheat, and coarse grains shall be distributed free of cost for all qualified households under Section 3 of the NFSA from January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023,’ the Food Ministry stated in a gazette announcement.
The announcement, however, stated that there will be no adjustments in the issue prices of foodgrains supplied to states for other welfare programmes like as mid-day meal.
Beneficiaries of the NFSA
On December 23, the Union Cabinet approved the distribution of food grains free of cost under the NFSA for one year, possibly benefiting 81.35 crore people who were previously paying ₹3/kg for rice, ₹2/kg for wheat, and ₹1/kg for coarse cereal. Because there has been no announcement regarding the expansion of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for the January-March quarter, recipients will have to make do with the regular monthly supply of 5 kg.
Under PMGKAY, all NFSA recipients got the same amount of free food grains as those who qualified under the food law.
Grain is heavily subsidized
‘A total of ₹2 lakh crore would be invested in food security for free grains,’ stated Food Minister Piyush Goyal. However, experts estimate that the government will save approximately ₹40,000 crore by not extending the PMGKAY for the January-March period, which would have resulted in an additional expenditure of nearly ₹44,000 crore, whereas by foregoing the claims on central issue prices, the burden may be ₹4,000 for one quarter.
Up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population can get heavily subsidized food grains through the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Households (PHH) programs.