Congress passed an Ordinance on Food Security Bill which guarantees food at nominal rates (5 kg of foodgrains each month at Rs. 1-3 per kg) for 67% of the population. This was done in utter haste when Parliament is expected to convene in another 2-3 weeks. Another populist measure by the Congress Govt. keeping the elections in mind. The same was promised to be passed within 100 days of UPA coming to power in 2004 elections. Der aaye durust aaye!
In spirit, the law is a good as it provides food security to citizens. However, there are implementation issues as we don’t have enough storage capacity. If only 25-30% population is below poverty line what is the need to include 67% at a cost of Rs. 1.25 trillion, risk of increasing fiscal deficit from targeted 4.8% to 5.1% (Crisil) which could threaten our investment grade rating.
The bill has left BJP and other opposition parties in a quandary as it will be difficult for them to reject this bill in Parliament. Congress feels this will act as “sanjivani buti” and divert attention from scams, inflation etc. and help it to garner votes. Policies of Congress like NREGA, Direct cash transfer of subsidy, Food Security Bill have all been framed to garner votes. Congress govt. should aim at creating conducive environment for industry and creating jobs (automatically people would not need NREGA, subsidies and Food security); instead of wasting tax payers money on schemes where there is a lot of leakage and resources do not reach the targeted population.
Is it a populist scheme keeping in mind elections? In a country as big as India can this be implemented successfully? Your thoughts please….