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New Delhi : The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution held the Fifth National Consultation Meeting of State Ministers, Secretaries and other officials of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on September 3, 2019.

Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan presided over the proceeding and interacted with all the participants in a free and open manner to seek their suggestions on various new initiatives of the Ministry and also understand their concerns and look for ways to address them. Wide ranging discussions were held on consumer empowerment, protection and welfare, National Portability of Ration Cards, automation of Fair Price Shops, Aadhaar seeding etc with State Ministers from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, UP and West Bengal.

Addressing the media after the consultative meeting, Paswan expressed happiness that State Governments widely participated at the event and discussed implementation of several key initiatives of the Government. Paswan exhorted State governments to buy Pulses and Onions from Central buffer for retailing in their respective States/UTs to check price rise and ease pressure on prices. The Minister stressed on the need for creation of a Price Stabilisation Fund in each State to ensure that price rise can be effectively tacked at the State level itself.

Paswan also sought inputs from State Governments on simplification of Essential Commodities Act in general to boost investments specifically in the agricultural sector and also penal provisions to make it more attuned to government’s policy regarding “Ease of doing business”. He highlighted the fact that all States are now covered under NFSA as compared to just 11 States in 2014. Paswan emphasised on the need for larger State participation in Rice Fortification Scheme as well as the portability of Ration Cards.

Paswan asked the representing officials from Jammu and Kashmir to give their requirements under NFSA so that the requisite foodgrains can be stocked up before the onset of winters. During winter, due to bad weather, the transportation of foodgrains becomes difficult and therefore they were requested to provide their demand in advance.

Minister of State Raosaheb Patil Danve, addressing the State governments, stated that there is a need for effective and time bound implementation of digitisation of PDS system. He urged State governments to come forwards with the issues facing them so that a discussions can be held on finding solutions.

It was emphasised during the meeting that empowering and protecting consumers is the joint responsibility of both the Centre and the State governments and achievement of this objective entails coordinated action between both. The action plan for the next year was also adopted at the meeting.

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