Poor ignored: No rethink by govt on decision to end Sugar subsidy

Poor ignored: No rethink by govt on decision to end Sugar subsidy
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Nadeem Nadu

Srinagar, Dec 25: From next year, sugar won’t be available in ration depots as the government has not kept any budgetary provision for it. The sweet commodity would not even be available to lakhs of `poor people’ AAY and BPL category consumers in the State.
Sources said that government used to purchase the sugar from the open market and would provide at subsidized prices to all consumers which was later restricted to those belonging to AAY and BPL categories.
“No justification has been provided for doing away with the subsidy on Sugar. How can a poor person purchase the Sugar at the double the cost,” said a local resident Nazir Ahmad, who belongs to BPL category.
“The poor would find hard to purchase it at subsidized rate and how can he purchase it at the cost which is more than double than that of rates provided at the ration depots,” said another poor consumer, Gulzar Ahmad. “This is an anti-poor measure and the government needs to take a call,” he added.
The decision to do away with the purchase and distribution of sugar by the government was taken on December 5 during the planning committee’s meeting of Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department. The meeting held under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary Finance, Navin K Choudhary took the decision, observing that the sugar was now available in open market, sources said.
The government believes that the sugar was not an essential commodity and the state used to give “extra subsidy over” it.
The government has been tight-lipped over the decision and has maintained silence over it even as the ruling administration was quick to rebut reports regarding the closure of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme (MMSFES).
The former three-time chief minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah also recently censured the incumbent administration’s move to end the disbursement of subsidized sugar to state’s BPL and AAY consumers.
He had expressed dismay over the withdrawal of sugar subsidy and said ending the subsidy would adversely affect the poor.
“It is an anti-people move and will put the extra burden on daily wagers and economically challenged the class of our society. The PDP-BJP government, soon after coming to power, took no time in doing away with the subsidy on rice and cooking gas. An above poverty line consumer had to pay less than Rs 1,000 per quintal, but after the subsidy was removed by the then BJP-PDP government, consumers are paying Rs 1,500 per quintal,” he had said. (GNS)