There is no proposal at present to extend the distribution of free ration as part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKAY-3) beyond November 30, the Union Government has said.
It’s because the economy is reviving and the open market sale scheme disposal of foodgrains has been exceptionally good this year, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said on Friday. The PMGKAY was announced in March 2020 to address the Covid distress. Initially, the scheme was launched for the April-June 2020 period but was further extended till November 30.
Under the PMGKAY, the government supplies free ration to 800 million ration card holders identified under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The free ration is given over and above the subsidised grains distributed to them via ration shops. The government has been giving rice and wheat to bulk consumers under the OMSS policy to improve availability in the domestic market and check prices.
According to official estimates, the Centre will bear an additional expenditure of Rs 67,266.44 crore on extending the free food grains distribution programme for five months starting from July, which together with the Rs 26,602 crore extra spending on the scheme for May and June entails a total expected extra expenditure of Rs 93,868 crore on free food in FY22.
This additional subsidy expenditure of around Rs 93,868 crore will be over and above the Budget Estimates of Rs 242,836 crore of food subsidy in FY 22.