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Centre to reform logistics infrastructure for faster payment and distribution of foodgrains

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NEW DELHI : The Centre is planning to introduce logistics reforms for faster payment and distribution of foodgrains, said Union Food and Public Distribution Secretary Sanjeev Chopra in an interview.

Reforms in the areas of storage, logistics and distribution are a step to mitigate post-harvest losses, make food grains available to consumers and ensure the country’s food security.

The plan is part of the govenment’s 100-day agenda fixed in a meeting last month between Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the council of ministers. In the meeting Modi said the economic momentum should not stop, and that the new government would have to start working from the very next day after taking the oath.

The first 100 days represent a critical window for a new government to set the tone of governance and policy direction.

“The 100-day agenda will be finalized at the level of the government after the new government is formed. Once the new government takes over, broadly it is expected to bring reforms in the payment process and distribution processes. It will be more of a logistic reform in terms of bulk movement of foodgrains and bulk storage of foodgrains,” Chopra said.

Chopra clarified, “We are not thinking of restructuring the fair price shops (FPS) in our 100-day agenda because ration shops are something which have been continuing for the past many years. There have been technological advances. 

In terms of data and services, nothing much has really changed because they are run by private dealers who work for a few days and after the distribution, they close the shops.”

“So, we are exploring the possibilities of how to make them more vibrant organizations tapping and leveraging their existence in the area for the past many years. People have some degree of confidence in these FPS. We are focusing on how we can leverage their stature and presence in the area for so long to increase the range of activities they do. We are working on a plan and will come up with it,” Chopra added.

On export curbs on several commodities, including rice and wheat, Chopra said the government has been closely monitoring prices of essential commodities and will take a call depending on the demand-supply situation. 

“As of now, there is no proposal for reviewing export curbs on any essential commodities,” the food secretary said.

This assumes significance as India earlier this month lifted the ban on onion exports but imposed a $550 per tonne minimum export price (MEP) and 40% export duty. It prohibited onion exports in December after a 40% export duty and $800 per tonne MEP failed to curtail prices in the domestic market amid poor crop prospects.

To keep food inflation in check, the government has taken a slew of measures, the latest being the removal of the import duty on chana (Bengal gram) until the end of FY25.

Though the headline inflation in April eased an 11-month low to 4.83% from 4.85% in March, food inflation remained firm. Food inflation was 8.70% in April, up from 8.52% in March, and 8.66% in February, due to a rise in the prices of cereals, meat and fish, and fruit. 

Consumer inflation remained above the central bank’s target of 4% but has stayed within its tolerance range of 2-6% for the eighth consecutive month.

Source : Mint

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