PRADHAN MANTRI GARIB KALYAN ANNA YOJANA (PMGKAY)
WHY IN NEWS?
- Recently, Prime Minister Modi announced that his government will extend the free-foodgrain scheme for 80 Crore poor people by another five years from January onwards.
MORE ABOUT THE NEWS:
- The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), which was to end on December 31, 2023, will now continue till December 2028.
- The scheme was launched during Covid pandemic. In December, 2022, it was clubbed with National Food Security Act (NFSA) scheme and extended for one year.
- The Prime Minister also said 13.5 crore people have been lifted above the poverty line during the last five years.
ABOUT FREE FOOD-GRAIN SCHEME (PMGKAY):
- The PM-GKAY was launched in April 2020, as a Covid-19 pandemic hit, and economic activities came to a halt.
- Under the scheme, 5 kg of foodgrains were provided free to all beneficiaries of the NFSA.
- This relief was in addition to their entitlement of 5 kg of subsidised foodgrains under the law.
- The scheme was started as one of the components of the government’s Rs 1.7 lakh crore Covid relief package announced by Finance Minister.
- The scheme was initially announced for three months — April, May, and June 2020.
- However, on July 8, 2020, it was extended for another five months, until November 2020.
- After the devastating second (Delta) wave of Covid hit in April 2021, the government restarted PM-GKAY, and approved a third phase of the scheme for May and June 2021.
- The National Food Security Act (NFSA) entitles about 810 million citizens to 5 kg of subsidized foodgrain per month.
- They include the poorest households who get 35 kg per month. During the pandemic, the Centre announced an additional 5 kg free foodgrain.
- As disruptions eased, the Centre, instead of stopping the free scheme, rolled back the additional quota in December and made the initial quota free.
- This saved the Centre money, but it had to lose revenue that it generated from selling the foodgrain at subsidized rates.
- Currently, the free foodgrain scheme costs about ₹2 trillion a year.
NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ACT, 2013:
- It was launched to provide for food and nutritional security in the human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantities of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.
- 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population are covered under NFSA for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
- The latest published Census figures are from 2011 — and based on that, about 81.35 crore people can be covered by the NFSA.
- The quantity of grains to which a beneficiary is entitled is also laid down in the law, and cannot be changed without Parliament’s approval.
- There are two categories of beneficiary households under the NFSA — the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, and the Priority Households (PHs).
- Each AAY household is entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains every month irrespective of the number of members in the household.
- PHs are entitled to receive foodgrains according to the number of family members.
- Each member of a PH is entitled to receive 5 kg of foodgrains every month under the NFSA. So, the bigger a PH family, the greater is the quantity of foodgrains it gets.
- Overall, NFSA caters to 67% of the total population.
Provisions of NFSA:
- 5 Kgs of foodgrains per person per month at Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains respectively.
- The existing AAY household will continue to receive 35 Kgs of foodgrains per household per month.
- Meal and maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000 to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth.
- Food security allowance to beneficiaries in case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals.
CONCERNS REGARDING EXTENSION OF SCHEME:
- Although the near-term fiscal and inflation impact of the extension of the 5 kilograms free food grain scheme, which costs ₹2 lakh crore or 0.7% of GDP annually.
- Last year’s redesign has slashed the scheme’s fiscal cost by half to ₹2 trillion.
- However, the scheme is still costlier than the pre-pandemic era’s as the government is forgoing revenue from its subsidized food sales.
- The government would be foregoing revenues from the subsidised food sales to the poor, which could amount to 0.05% of GDP annually.
- Moreover, the rise in procurement costs will lift food subsidy bills.
- Schemes offering free goods and services divide experts over whether they are welfare measures or freebies to woo voters.
- In order to enable people to buy more nutritious food, India should be moving towards direct benefit transfer, especially for the people who are not very poor.
SYLLABUS: GS-2, MAINS, SOCIAL JUSTICE