Will Monday’s meet on prices lighten people’s burden?

March 30th, 2008 - 6:19 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) Feeling the pinch of a rising inflation rate, people are looking forward to some effective measures from the Cabinet Committee on Prices (CCP) that is meeting Monday to discusses the skyrocketing prices. Many people complain that their home economy has gone haywire, as they find it increasingly difficult to meet burgeoning expenses. The inflation rate rose to a 13-month high to 6.68 percent for the week ended March 15.

In April, parents pay a hefty amount as the school fee for the first quarter, further constraining the monthly budget.

“Over the past couple of years, the monthly savings have gone down drastically. With each passing day, saving is becoming a more difficult exercise. For two kids, I have to deposit Rs.32,000 next month (as school fees), and I just do not know how to manage,” Amit Jain, a professional, said.

Many are angry with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for allegedly not doing enough to keep the prices of essential commodities like pulses, edible oil, vegetables and fruits under check.

“The feel-good factor generated by the Rs.600 billion loan relief to 40 million farmers and the recommendations of almost doubling the salary of the government employees have been lost in the grinding inflation. It is an unmanageable situation,” S.N. Mishra, a doctor and national president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), told IANS.

Taking note of the situation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a series of high-level meetings, including that of the CCP, to thrash out an action plan to rein in prices.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit too has called a meeting of the agricultural boards and committee Monday to review the price situation in the capital. The Delhi Agricultural Marketing Board, the government agency that monitors the agriculture produce market, is also likely to submit a report on the price scenario.

“Since the poor and lower middle class people have adversely been affected by inflation, the government must initiate corrective measures. Vegetables like bitter gourd are selling at Rs.40-45 per kilogram in retail shops,” said Abu Baker, a professor and former chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC).

Although Finance Secretary D. Subbarao Saturday said on the margins of a seminar on market regulation that the government “expected commodity prices to go down when there is recession in the developed countries”, people are looking for some relief soon.

“Two years back, my monthly kitchen budget used to be Rs.4,500. It has gone up to Rs.6,500. We have significantly cut our daily intake of fruits and green vegetables. We never imagined buying edible oil for Rs.80 a litre. The government must act fast,” said Mohammad Tanveer Zafar, a mechanical engineering graduate from the Jamia Milia Islamia.

Ash Narain Roy, co-ordinator of the International Studies at the city-based Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), added: “The government has a tendency to wake up only when an alarm is raised. It is a scary situation where pulses cost you Rs.60 per kg. An alert government should visualise difficult scenarios before they go out of control.”

Firoz Bakht Ahmed, chairman, Friends For Education, agreed. “The government has failed in checking inflation and is offering unconvincing arguments like it is a fallout of the global economy passing through ups and downs. The fact is that the plight of the poor is worsening day by day and the government is not able to do anything.”

People are looking forward to some respite after the CCP meeting.

“Inflation is hitting all sections of society hard. I hope something comes out of tomorrow’s meeting,” said S.S. Rathi, former Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) president.

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