Bali outcome not to impact food security programme: Sharma

The outcome of the WTO meeting held recently at Bali will not impact the country's food security programme, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma informed Parliament today.

"...Nothing in the aforesaid agreement impinges on our food security programme for the poor and vulnerable sections of society, which is very much part of our sovereign space," Sharma said in a statement in the Lok Sabha.

Developed countries like the US and Canada have raised concerns over India's food security plan saying that the stock piling of foodgrains under the programme may distort the global agricultural commodity prices.

Under the food security plan, the government is procuring foodgrains from farmers at minimum support price (MSP) and selling at cheap rates to poor people.

Sharma said: "It (the Bali outcome) provides for an interim mechanism to be put in place and to negotiate for an agreement for a permanent solution for adoption by the 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO (that will be in 2017).

"In the interim, until a permanent solution is found, members will be protected against challenge in the WTO under the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) in respect of public stockholding programmes for food security purposes. It unambiguously stated that the interim solution shall continue until a permanent solution is found."

There are apprehensions that once India implements its food security plan completely, it may breach the 10 per cent subsidy cap under the WTO's AoA.

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