States can lift PDS grains for 3 months on credit: Fin Min

Centre on Monday allowed states and Union Territories to lift foodgrains for three months in advance from Food Corporation of India (FCI) for distribution through ration shops in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are about 75 crore beneficiaries under the Public Distribution System (PDS).

“To ensure adequate supply of foodgrains to the public and financially assist the state govts, Department of Expenditure, has agreed to the Food and Public Distribution Department’s proposal that foodgrain for 3 months can be lifted by States/ UTs on credit from FCI,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a tweet.

As of now, the government has surplus foodgrains of 435 lakh tonnes, out of  which 272.19 lakh tonnes are rice and 162.79 lakh tonnes are wheat, as per the government data.

At present, the government supplies 5 kilograms of subsidisedfoodgrains per month to each beneficiary under the PDS through 5,00,000 ration shops in the country. This costs the exchequer about Rs 1.4 lakh crore annually.

Foodgrains via ration shops are supplied at a highly subsidised rate of Rs 3/kg for rice, Rs 2/kg for wheat and Rs 1/kg for coarse grains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).