M A I N   N E W S

UPA for executive order to ensure food security
May bypass legislation in view of stiff resistance by Opposition
Anita Katyal
Tribune news service

New Delhi, September 29
As key Bills continue to pile up in Parliament because of Opposition resistance, the UPA government is examining the possibility of implementing the provisions of its flagship National Food Security Bill through the executive route, obviating the need for parliamentary approval. UPA sources disclosed that the government is working on a Plan B for the implementation of the food Bill as the exit of Trinamool Congress will make it harder for the ruling combine to push through its legislative agenda in Parliament.

Aware of this roadblock ahead, it is being suggested that the UPA government can go ahead with the implementation of this Bill even if it gets stalled in Parliament. The government, it was pointed out, can incorporate the key provisions of the National Food Security Bill in an executive programme and distribute extra foodgrains to the poor and disadvantaged sections through a revamped public distribution system (PDS). The Finance Ministry will have to approve the scheme as it will cost the exchequer over Rs1 lakh crore.

“There is no bar on the government from taking the executive route in distributing foodgrains as envisaged in the food Bill,” Law Minister Salman Khursheed told The Tribune. However, having a law in place makes food for all an enforceable right, he explained, adding that the alternate option is very much on the government’s table. The food Bill is currently being debated by the Parliamentary standing committee.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi is keen that the food bill be fast tracked as the party had promised such a legislation in its last election manifesto.

The party is touting the food security Bill as its flagship programme on the lines of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which paid rich dividends to the Congress in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Ever since it resolved to press ahead with its stalled reforms agenda, which triggered Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee’s exit, the government is keen to roll out as many programmes as possible through executive decisions within the next few months to dispel the public perception that the ruling combine is in the grip of a policy paralysis and put the economy back on track.

The pending legislative agenda, however, remains a source of worry as the government is not sure if the opposition will allow the winter session of Parliament to function.

As it is, the monsoon session was washed out over the BJP’s demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation following the CAG report on irregularities in coal block allocations. The month-long session was one of the least productive sessions ever witnessed as the government was able to pass only six of the 31 bills it had listed.

No parliamentary nod needed

  • The govt can incorporate the key provisions of the National Food Security Bill in an executive programme
  • This will obviate the need the need for parliamentary approval
  • The Finance Ministry will have to approve the scheme
  • It can distribute extra foodgrains to the poor and disadvantaged sections through a revamped PDS





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