The Centre’s intention behind allowing the sale of wheat and rice through e-auctions under the Open Market Sale Scheme-Domestic (OMSS-D) was to give a signal to the market that the foodgrains stock is available with the government and it will be used to bring down prices, Union Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said on Monday.
Addressing the media, Chopra hinted at a possible change in the existing OMSS policy, under which the government has announced to sell 4 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of wheat and 5 lakh MT rice from the Central pool in open market.
In the e-auction conducted on July 5, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) received bids for only 170 MT rice against a quantity of 3.86 lakh MT on offer.
Asked if the government will tweak the OMSS policy in view of tepid response to FCI’s offer to sell rice, Chopra said, “As CMD [of FCI] has mentioned, 100 MT is what we are allowing at present, and this tweaking of policy is a dynamic continuous process. As and when we find there is some requirement, we will tweak the policy to ensure the policy meets the objective.”
Chopra said the decision to sell wheat and rice under OMSS is being done in the “larger interest of the country and its population”.
Chopra claimed that 16 of 17 states that participated in the conference of state Food Ministers last week supported the Centre’s decision to discontinue sale of wheat and rice to states under OMSS-D.
He said: “When this issue emerged, we thought we must also take views of the state. Last week we had the Food Ministers’ Conference…except one state, all ministers supported the contention of the Union minister that whatever is the quantity available with the country should be used for the good of the entire population, and not for a certain class or a certain category of population of a particular state or a particular region.”
Asked which states supported the Centre’s decision, Chopra named 16: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, Nagaland, Manipur, Maharashtra and Haryana. He said only Karnataka demanded a change in policy.