Not for axing of all subsidies: Kelkar
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The government needs to subsidise kerosene and food for poor, former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar said observing that the committee on fiscal consolidation headed by him was not against elimination of all subsidies.
"I agree with people who argue that we cannot eliminate subsidies, we shouldn't eliminate subsidies. Food subsidy is defensible. For undernourished children or lactating mothers food subsidy is not only defensible, it is ethically right and morally correct", Kelkar said in an interview to CNBC TV18.
"Subsidy must be continued for kerosene as long as it is affordable (for the government)," he added.
Responding to the report of Kelkar committee, the government had earlier said that panel's suggestions on removal of subsidy were contrary to government's policy of protecting poor.
"The government is of the view that in a developing country where a significant proportion of the population is poor, a certain level of subsidies is necessary and unavoidable, and measures must be taken to protect the poor and vulnerable sections of the society", Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) secretary Arvind Mayaram had said.
Mayaram had further said Committee's recommendation of withdrawal of certain subsidies is in divergence with the stated policy of the government.
The final view on the recommendations of the committee, set up by Finance Minister P Chidambaram to suggest fiscal consolidation road map, will be taken by the government after receiving feedback from stake holders.
The Kelkar committee wanted that implementation of the Food Security Bill to provide cheap grains to persons below poverty line, be "appropriately phased" in view of difficult fiscal challenges.
The government's proposed Food Security Bill which is being given the final touches by the Cabinet is estimated to cost the exchequer at least Rs 1.19 lakh crore by way of subsidy.
In case of food and fertiliser subsidies, it wanted the government to increase the urea price and raise issue price of foodgrains at ration shops.
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