India’s cabinet on Wednesday issued an executive order to start a 1.3 trillion rupee ($22 billion) welfare programme that would bring cheap food to hundreds of millions of poor people throughout the country.
Despite the order, both houses of parliament must vote on the programme when they meet for the Monsoon session later this month.
The programme, which would provide highly subsidized food to about two-thirds of India’s population, is seen by many as a key initiative of the ruling Congress party, and one that can help them win votes in the 2014 general elections.
Here’s some background on the bill from a June 13 Reuters article:
The programme aims to provide subsidized wheat and rice to 70 percent of India’s population. When implemented, the scheme will massively broaden an existing programme of providing cheap food to 218 million people.
Critics say beneficiaries do not stand to gain as about 40 percent of rice and wheat earmarked for the poor gets siphoned off due to corruption. An inefficient distribution channel also leads to waste.