Monitor prices regularly to check inflation: minister

April 16th, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) Regular high-level monitoring of the price situation is necessary to deal with the current bout of inflation, says Minister for Rural Development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh. “The cabinet should meet frequently to discuss the price situation and the emerging scenario. Regular monitoring is the effective way to deal with such situations, and helps you prepare accordingly,” Singh told IANS in an interview.

“The Cabinet Committee on Prices (CCP) should have weekly meetings.”

The last meeting of the CCP was held March 31, at which the government decided to ban the export of pulses and non-basmati rice, and also cut heavily import duty on a variety of edible and refined oils.

The CCP was scheduled to meet Tuesday but could not due to “differences” within the government over the ways to check simmering inflation.

“At the same time, the government should initiate some more drastic measures. The prices of essential commodities should be fixed at the retail level. There is a big a difference between the wholesale and retail prices of essential commodities at the delivery level,” Singh said.

What Singh, a no-nonsense member of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet, says has a merit.

In Delhi, the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), a government agency, has fixed the prices of seasonal vegetables in the range of Rs.5 to 20 per kilo, but prices are far higher at retail outlets.

For instance, the wholesale price for onions is Rs.5.50 per kg, but the retailers charge not less than Rs.10.

Singh also favoured a complete ban on the futures trading and export of any essential commodities as long as prices remain high.

“The government must ban export of all commodities to meet the domestic demands. The future trading should be done away with,” Singh said, adding that the government would do whatever possible to check prices.

“Since the poor in particular are adversely affected by inflation, efforts must be made to strengthen the public distribution system (PDS) through which the people living the below and above the poverty line get subsidised food grains,” Singh said.

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