India Might Extend World's Largest Free Food Program Until December - Report
The free food ration program was launched in April 2020 during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown and is the biggest free food program in the world, feeding around 800 million people. Under the scheme, less fortunate citizens are entitled to five kilograms of wheat or rice and one kilogram of grain.
India's free food ration program, known as PMGKAY, which is set to expire at the end of September, is likely to be extended by an additional 3 months, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.
The extension is reportedly backed by the Food Ministry of India.
The news came following reports that the country's finance ministry was opposed to extending the scheme, as it burdens the state budget to the tune of $18 billion annually. At the same time, the program is widely supported by the population for obvious reasons.
The decision to extend or to suspend the program is expected to be made just before the festival season in India, which is an important driver of economic activity for the country, and elections in major provinces such as Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
Earlier this year, India had to restrict exports of wheat and rice due to climate conditions that undermined its plans for the number of crops.
The final decision on the PMGKAY lies with the Indian prime minister's office.