Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today asked the state governments to strengthen the public distribution system in view of sustained price rise of essential commodities.

“We have asked the states to strengthen the PDS to protect the poor and weaker sections of society,” Mukherjee told reporters here.

The cause of price rise, he said, had been largely due to cost-push inflation due to hike in the purchase prices of paddy and wheat.

The Finance Minister also said that since the country was deficient in production of edible oil and pulses, the government had allowed import of these items at zero duty.

“We have told states to import these items,” he said.

He said that the government would provide essential items like rice, wheat, sugar, kerosene oil and edible oil at highly subsidised rates.

Prices of pulses, especially tur have gone up by 50 per cent to Rs 90 a kg in the past six months while sugar rates have almost doubled to Rs 36 a kg in the last one year. Rice has become dearer by 25 per cent in the last five months.

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