There is a lot of hue & cry after it was revealed that parliament canteens that provide food facilities to Members of Parliaments are subsidized to the extent of 80%. The rates of food items offered in these canteens are substantially lower than the market price. Hence the government has to pitch in with the subsidy amount. The Joint Committee of Parliament that is authorized to revise these rates met 15 times between 2009 and 2014 and revised the rates only once.
There was much dismay in the common public after learning that the Government provides more than 10 crore rupees as subsidy for running the Parliament House Canteens (PHC). The current rates in the PHC are less than 50% of the market price. The PHC caters to MPs, former MPs, Media, family members & guests of MPs etc. After much public outcry, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Venkaiah Naidu promised to look into the issue of subsidies, but said that it is not in the Government’s hand since it is the ‘Joint Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex’ that is authorized to look into this issue and decide on rates. But what did this committee do in the last five years from 2009 to 2014?
What are the Current rates?
The rates of food items and eatables were revised thrice since 2002. The last revision was in 2010. Even after this latest round of revision, the rates offered way less than the market price or even the cost price of such an item. For instance, Puri with Vegetable is offered at 2 rupees while the raw material cost itself is more than 18 rupees.
The Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex
The Joint Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex consists of 15 members, 10 from Lok Sabha and 5 from Rajya Sabha. They committee has the following terms of reference
- To consider the revision of rates of eatables served at Railway Catering Units located in Parliament House Complex
- To consider the level of subsidy to be given for running Railway Catering Units in Parliament House Complex
- To consider provision of excellent canteen services to members
- To consider other related issues.
The Committee is in office for a period of one year. In the 15th Lok Sabha, from 2009-2014 the same committee continued after their term was extended each year. The committee was chaired by JD(U) MP, Ranjan Prasad Yadav. Other prominent MPs in this committee were H.D. Kumara Swamy of the JD(S), Yashodhara Raje Scindia of the BJP, Ravneet Singh of the Congress, Kanimozhi of the DMK, D Raja of the CPI and Rajiv Pratap Rudy of the BJP.
How many times did the committee meet and what was discussed?
As per the data available on the Parliament website, this committee met 15 times during the 15th Lok Sabha and discussed various issues. In only one meeting in 2010, they discussed the issue of rate revision and decided to increase the rates by 50% and round it off. In all other meetings, the subjects discussed ranged from facilities in canteens to improving south Indian food to inspections to subsidies.
|Sl.No||Date of Sitting (Duration)||Number of Members Present||Subjects Discussed|
|1||November, 2009 (45 mins)||7||Introductory Meeting|
|2||January, 2010 (50 mins)||6||Working of catering units in PH Complex|
|3||April, 2010 (60 mins)||8||Revision of rates of eatable served in PH Complex|
|4||January, 2011(60 mins)||6||Examination of the working of Tea Board/ Coffee Board units operating in Parliament House Complex|
|5||April, 2011 (60 mins)||5||Discussion of the recommendations made by the Chairman of the Committee during his surprise inspection of all the Catering Units working in PH Complex|
|6||July, 2011 (60 mins)||6||• Introduction of Mother Dairy Ice-creams at all the Northern Railway Catering Unit of Parliament House Complex• Day-wise menu of snacks available in all the NRCU of Parliament House Complex.• Fixation of quantity of food items being served at the Northern Railway Catering of PHC.• Exploring the feasibility of shifting of kitchen of PHC to PLB and serving of packed food in Parliament House prepared in PLB Canteen|
|7||September, 2011 (60 mins)||5||• Catering service in Parliament House Canteen• Exploring the feasibility of shifting of kitchen of PHC to PLB and serving of packed food in Parliament House prepared in PLB Canteen|
|8||September, 2011 (60 mins)||7||• Catering service in Parliament House Canteen• Exploring the feasibility of shifting of kitchen of PHC to PLB and serving of packed food in Parliament House prepared in PLB Canteen|
|9||October, 2011 (60 mins)||6||• Catering service in Parliament House Canteen• Exploring the feasibility of shifting of kitchen of PHC to PLB and serving of packed food in Parliament House prepared in PLB Canteen|
|10||February, 2011 (60 mins)||7||Exploring the feasibility of shifting of kitchen of PHC to PLB and serving of packed food in Parliament House prepared in PLB Canteen|
|11||February, 2011 (60 mins)||7||• Inspection of Railway Canteens by the team of Confederation of India Industry.• Subsidy to Northern Railway for maintaining the catering unit.• Provision of the PNG connection in all catering unit of Parliament House Complex.• Staff matter of Northern Railway Catering Unit of Parliament House Complex.|
|12||July, 2012 (60 mins)||6||• Progress regarding shifting of washing area of Parliament House Canteen to Plot No. 118, PH.• Provision of PNG connection for Parliament House Canteen in place of LPG cylinders.|
|13||September, 2012 (30 mins)||7||• Bringing improvement in the food items specially South Indian items available in Railway Canteen in Parliament House Complex and recruitment of cooks specialized in cooking South Indian dishes on regular basis.• To review the catering arrangements in Parliament House Complex in the wake of temporary shifting of cooking of Parliament House Canteen.• To review the functioning of Tea Board, Coffee Board and Delhi Milk Scheme.• To monitor the development of washing/kitchen area at Plot No. 118, Parliament House|
|14||November, 2012 (60 mins)||6||Improvement in the catering facilities and hygienic conditions in various catering units in Parliament House Complex.|
|15||April, 2013 (60 mins)||8||• Subsidy Claim from Northern Railway for year 2011-12.• Cadre Review and change in the nomenclature of Khalasies.|
What is the amount of Subsidy?
Since the rates are far less than even the cost of raw materials, the Government has to subsidize the canteens. The amount of subsidy is on the rise for the last 5 years. The Net sales are substantially lower the total cost and account for hardly 20% of the total cost. The Government provides the remaining 80% subsidy for running these canteens. In 2013-14, the total cost of running these canteens is 17.71 crore rupees while the net sales were just 3.56 crore rupees. The amount of subsidy is on the rise with each passing year. In 2013-14, the government had to provide a subsidy of more than 14 crore rupees. This information came to light through a reply sent to Mr. Subhash Chandra Agrawal in response to his RTI application.
PS: The canteens keep adding new items & dishes to the menu. Here is the latest addition in July, 2014 after the constitution of the 16th Lok Sabha