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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Cabinet may soon okay plan to promulgate Ordinance to amend Essential Commodities Act

Asked about the timeline by which the government wants to amend the EC Act, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said “nothing is impossible”.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: May 17, 2020 7:07:52 am
essential commodities act, essential commodities act amendment, covid economic package india, nirmala sitharaman, ram vilas paswan, indian express news After the amendment to the EC Act, commodities such as cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato are expected to be deregulated. (Photo: Amit Mehra)

As part of the COVID-19 relief package, the Union Cabinet may soon approve a proposal to promulgate an Ordinance to amend the Essential Commodities (EC) Act, 1955, it is learnt.

According to sources, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has circulated a draft of the Ordinance to amend the EC Act, and the same may be approved by the Union Cabinet in its next meeting.

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However, asked about the timeline by which the government wants to amend the EC Act, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday said “nothing is impossible.”

“We are examining it. It has to be decided at the Cabinet level. We need to look at the practicality,” Paswan said.

Paswan’s comments came a day after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that government will amend the EC Act.

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After the amendment, commodities such as cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato are expected to be deregulated. “Stock limit will be imposed under very exceptional circumstances like national calamities, famine with surge in prices. Further, no such stock limit shall apply to processors or value chain participant, subject to their installed capacity or to any exporter subject to the export demand,” the government said in a statement issued on Friday.

Describing the EC Act as “anachronistic”, the Economic Survey 2019-20, too, recommended the “jettisoning” of this law.

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Interacting with media via video conference, Paswan said the government is sensitive to the plight of the migrant labourers and the poor, and his Ministry is doing everything possible to ensure that no one is hungry.

Paswan said free food grains to 8 crore migrant labourers and their families will be provided under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan.

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“This decision is in the interest of migrants. Congress may say give more quantity of foodgrains for free. The NFSA, under which 5 kg per person subsidised grain is given to 81 crore through PDS, was framed during the UPA time. But, the Modi government is doing maximum. This is not the end of all. The Prime Minister is sensitive and aware of the situation,” Paswan noted.

According to Food Ministry, about 8 lakh metric tons of foodgrains have been allocate for free foodgrains (5kg per individual per month during May and June) distribution to 8 crore migrant workers who don’t have a ration card.

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