Congress defends ordinance on Food Security Bill

New Delhi, July 5 (ANI): Amid sharp criticism from the leaders of various political outfits, Congress Party on Friday backed the ordinance on Food Security Bill, and said that this scheme will tackle hunger and malnutrition in the country.

Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken said that the scheme will benefit crores of people, and added that it will help in the battle against malnutrition and hunger.

"This could be a lifesaver for many poor people, even a minute's delay can be too costly," he said.

Maken said the Congress-led UPA Government has kept the promise, which it made to the electorate in 2009, by bringing in an ordinance.

"We had no option, but to bring an ordinance. The opposition does not want to discuss or pass this bill in the Parliament," he added, while addressing a joint press conference here along with Food Minister K.V. Thomas.

Maken also downplayed concerns that the Rs 1,24,723 crore Food Security Bill would lead to increase in fiscal budget, and stressed that there will be no financial pressure on the government.

" Rs. 90,000 crore of the Rs. 1,24,723 crore proposed expenditure on the scheme has already been taken into account in the budget. Hence, the additional expenditure will be only Rs. 23,800 crore," said Maken.

"Rs. 23,800 crore additional burden on exchequer won't hamper fiscal deficit or affect financial management of the country," he added.

Maken further said that the government is nor running away from debate on the Food Security Bill.

"We are confident that we will manage to get numbers in both houses after it is promulgated," he added.

Terming the ordinance as historic, Maken had earlier said the government resorted to promulgation of ordinance, as there was no unanimity during the discussions with the opposition parties.

According to TV reports, President Pranab Mukherjee has signed the ordinance on food security, which seeks to give legal rights to 67 per cent of the population over subsidised grains every month.

The Food Security programme when implemented will be the biggest in the world with the government spending estimated at one lakh 25 thousand crore rupees annually.

The Food Security Bill was tabled during the Budget Session of Parliament, but could not be taken up for discussion because of opposition-led disruptions of proceedings arising out of scam-related allegations.

The Food Security Bill is aimed at giving legal rights to 67 percent of the population for a uniform quantity of 5 kg food grains at a fixed price of Rs 1-3 per kg through ration shops. (ANI)

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