India's parliament passes cheap food law for 800 million people

Indian vendors negotiate prices at a vegetable wholesale market in Hyderabad on June 12, 2013. India's upper house of parliament on Monday approved a US$20 billion (S$25.5 billion) scheme to distribute subsidised wheat and rice to 800 million people,
Indian vendors negotiate prices at a vegetable wholesale market in Hyderabad on June 12, 2013. India's upper house of parliament on Monday approved a US$20 billion (S$25.5 billion) scheme to distribute subsidised wheat and rice to 800 million people, backing an anti-malnutrition drive that investors fear will mean missing the fiscal deficit target. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India's upper house of parliament on Monday approved a US$20 billion (S$25.5 billion) scheme to distribute subsidised wheat and rice to 800 million people, backing an anti-malnutrition drive that investors fear will mean missing the fiscal deficit target.

The Food Security Bill is seen as a vote winner by the ruling Congress party as it prepares for elections due by May next year. But investors reacted negatively to the plan when the lower house approved it last weak, on worries the government will struggle to contain the cost of subsidies.

The scheme has now been passed by both houses. Before becoming law it must be signed by the president, a formality.