Campaigning has begun in Madhya Pradesh from poll-bound Karnataka, with the Modi government giving free rations to all. From printing posters to creating WhatsApp groups of ration-seekers, it is spreading the word that the central government is bearing the entire cost. In fact, the Modi government wants to save about 90 thousand crore rupees in food subsidy in next year’s budget.
The central ruling party is campaigning on the Centre’s ‘free ration scheme’ in the BJP-ruled states targeting next year’s Lok Sabha elections and this year’s assembly polls in ten states including Jammu and Kashmir. On the other hand, the Modi government plans to cut spending on food subsidies in the next budget. According to government sources, in the current fiscal year, the amount of subsidy on food will not be required in the next fiscal year. Because even though free ration is given, no additional ration has to be paid in the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana’ launched during the time of Covid.
2.07 lakh crore was initially allocated for food subsidy in the last budget. But the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana’, which was launched to provide free extra ration during the Covid period, has to run till December keeping in mind the polls in various states. For that, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has recently taken permission from the Parliament to spend an additional rupees 60,110 crore on food subsidy.
As per the Union Ministry of Food and Public Distribution, a total of around Rs 2.86 lakh crore has to be allocated in the current financial year as revised. But only Rs 1.97 lakh crore will be required for food subsidy in the next financial year. Which means, the amount of money initially allocated for food subsidy in the current financial year, may be allocated about 10 thousand crores less than that in the next financial year. Overall, compared to the total expenditure of the current year, about 90 thousand crores less will be spent in the next year.
How is that possible? According to government sources, the National Food Security Act will provide rice and wheat as before. But it will not be charged any more. For that, the central government will spend only 18,500 crore rupees. But on the contrary, the additional ration that was being given under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana’, will not be given from January. That is a huge saving. As a result, about 90 thousand crore rupees will be saved in food subsidy. However, BJP leaders are saying that even if the cost of ration is reduced by 90 thousand crores, free ration campaign will be thousand times more.
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