Govt proposes sale of small LPG cylinders, offering financial services via ration shops

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday said it plans to allow retail sale of small LPG cylinders as well as offer financial services through fair price shops as part of its measures to enhance the financial viability of these outlets. These issues were discussed in a virtual meeting with state governments chaired by food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey. Representatives from the ministries of electronics and IT; finance; and petroleum and natural gas also attended the meeting. Officials from Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) as well as CSC e-Governance Services India Limited (CSC) were also present. After the meeting, the food and consumer affairs ministry said in a statement: “Proactive measures to be taken to enhance financial viability of FPS. …Plan of retail selling of small LPG cylinders through FPS in the anvil.” Representatives from oil marketing companies (OMCs) appreciated the proposal for retail selling of small LPG cylinders through fair price shops (FPS), also called ration shops. OMCs said the necessary support would be provided for the same in coordination with interested state/UT governments, it added. In the meeting, the food secretary stressed on the need for taking proactive measures for enhancing the financial viability of FPSs. The state governments said the collaboration with common service centres (CSC) will increase the viability of FPS. They also mentioned that they would coordinate with CSC to review feasibility according to local requirements. On the proposal to offer financial services via FPS, representatives from the Department of Financial Services (DFS) informed that the necessary support would be provided for the same in coordination with interested states. The government is planning to extend MUDRA loans to FPS dealers for capital augmentation, the statement added. The food secretary asked states to take up these initiatives and tailor them to suit their requirements. He advised CSC to conduct separate workshops / webinars with different groups of states and union territories to provide sensitisation on potential benefits, capacity building of FPS and assist them in implementation of these initiatives. Further, the secretary advised the states to conduct continuous awareness and outreach campaigns simultaneously to sensitise FPS dealers on the benefits of these initiatives. In a series of tweets, food and consumer affairs minister Piyush Goyal said, “Plan for retail selling of LPG cylinders through FPS on anvil. States/UTs to sensitise the FPS dealers on the same.” Goyal said his ministry calls for taking proactive measures to enhance the financial viability of FPS. There are around 5.26 lakh fair price shops in the country through which subsidised foodgrains under the National Food Security Act are being distributed to the poor beneficiaries.

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