Food security bill to be delayed by a year - paper

NEW DELHI Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:09pm IST

A nomad from Rajasthan prepares a ''roti'' (Indian bread) outside a makeshift tent on a cold morning at Parthla village, in Uttar Pradesh January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma

A nomad from Rajasthan prepares a ''roti'' (Indian bread) outside a makeshift tent on a cold morning at Parthla village, in Uttar Pradesh January 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Parivartan Sharma

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The government's proposed food security bill will take at least a year to be finalised, delaying a key vote-winning policy for the ruling Congress party as crucial state elections loom, the Financial Express reported on Wednesday.

The proposal, to provide cheap and easily available foodgrains to the poor, is seen easing voter ire over high inflation and providing a boost to the under-fire Congress party in state elections this year and the 2014 general election.

"There are policy and implementation issues on which we need clarity. There is also the issue of identifying the poor because they need higher subsidy," the paper quoted Naresh C. Saxena, a member of National Advisory Council which is drawing up the bill as saying.

"There is crowding at the poverty line and hence, it might take one year in finalising the bill."

Wrangling over the scope of subsidies has stalled the bill despite the backing of powerful Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi. Backers say it will protect over 400 million of India's poor, but some say it will hit the country's plans to cut the fiscal deficit.

Food inflation, currently at a one-year high of 18.3 percent, is a major headache for the government, which is also battling billion-dollar corruption allegations months before voters go to the polls in a number of key states.

(Reporting by Henry Foy; editing by Malini Menon)

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