Price rise in India minimum in world: minister

April 16th, 2008 - 10:34 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) Prices of essential commodities were lower in India compared to other countries, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Minister Sharad Pawar told parliament Wednesday. “In countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Pakistan, there is an increase of over 100 percent in the prices of rice and wheat, while in India the prices of rice and wheat have increased by 17.2 percent and 7.2 percent respectively. It is the minimum in the world,” he said.

Pawar was responding to a discussion in the Lok Sabha on the rising inflation and efforts being made to check the trend.

Communist Party of India (CPI) member Gurudas Dasgupta initiated the debate by launching a scathing attack on the government for failing to check rising prices.

The minister also announced that one million tonnes of edible oil and 1.5 million tonnes of pulses would be imported. He, however, assured the house that there was no shortage of food grains in the country.

“The production of rice this year was 98.4 lakh (9.84 million) tonnes against the production of 75 lakh tonnes last year. Against the standard buffer stock of 40 lakh tonnes, we have buffer of 58 lakh tonnes this year,” he said.

“The government will import one million tonnes of edible oil. The public sector companies too have been told to import edible oil,” Pawar informed the house, admitting the shortage of edible oil in the country.

He said edible oil would be subsidised at Rs.15 per litre.

“The order has already been placed to import 11.86 lakh tonnes of pulses before March 31,” Pawar said.

The minister said the government would take more measures to control inflation.

“The government has already taken measures to check the price rise. It will take some time to see their impact in full,” Pawar said amid disruptions from the opposition members.

Pawar stressed the need to look at the price trend in the global context, and factors like the climate change, high-energy prices and income growth that have contributed a lot in creating the current scenario of inflation.

He called on the states to ensure that retail prices of essential commodities were in proportion to wholesale rates.

Pawar pointed out that the prices had been improving. “The wholesale price of rice is at Rs.1,550 per quintal, while that of wheat is Rs.1,118,” he said.

“The purchasing power of the people has increased due to schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) scheme,” he said.

Under the NREG, an applicant is entitled to get 100 days jobs in a year.

Pawar said that some states like Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Punjab had lagged behind in rice production, while some states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have not contributed to the central government their share of produce.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram too reiterated that the government would not hesitate from initiating more measures - both fiscal and administrative - if needed, and asked the states to impose the stock limit norms.

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