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Food Ministry indicates willingness to tweak OMSS after lukewarm response

The Union Food Ministry indicated that it is willing to make changes to the Open Market Sales Scheme after the first e-auction of rice

The Union Food Ministry indicated that it is willing to make changes to the Open Market Sales Scheme after the first e-auction of rice | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

As the Congress attacked the Centre on Monday over the reluctance of private players to auction rice from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) under the Open Market Sales Scheme, the Union Food Ministry indicated that it is willing to make changes to the scheme. The Centre had recently restricted the States from purchasing food grains using OMSS and the Congress said the BJP Government was favouring private players over State governments.

Centre may tweak policy

Union Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said the Centre is aware of the lukewarm response to the OMSS by traders and is watching the situation. He, however, maintained that it was the first e-auction of rice and the Centre is open to tweaking the policy.

Also read: Explained | The Centre-state tussle over the Open Market Sale Scheme

He, however, said the policy cannot be changed for a State or a class of people. He said more than 15 States, including Tamil Nadu supported the Centre’s stand in the meeting. “Let’s not get discouraged with one round not getting a good response. ….Usually, FCI does not do routine OMSS for rice. This is primarily done for wheat. For rice, it just started. We expected more (response) for rice, but it has not happened,” Mr. Chopra said.

He said the Centre’s intention was to give a signal to the market that the stock is with the government we and will use it in the interest of the common man to bring down the prices. “We will wait and watch. We don’t want to jump the gun. This is the first auction. The government is open to changes,” he added.

cash transfer schemes

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, meanwhile, said in a statement that the Government in Karnataka will not be shaken in its resolve to implement the Anna Bhagya scheme. “The cash transfer scheme launched today by the Congress Government in Karnataka is a strong reply to the Modi Government’s vindictive policies in regard to food security for the poor, especially in a State where the BJP was comprehensively rejected,” he said.

He said the e-auction of rice flopped miserably and more than 99% of the rice offered for e-auction remained unsold. “In any case, it is clear that the Modi Government has greater faith in private traders to control inflation than in state governments and the public distribution system,” he said.

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