Terming the fluctuations in food inflation an area of "grave concern," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the figure is perilously close to double digits
Far from providing any relief to the common man, food inflation inched up to 9.13 per cent for the week ended September 17 from 8.84 per cent a week earlier, mainly owing to higher prices of potatoes, pulses and other protein-rich edibles.
The WPI (Wholesale Price Index) data released here on Thursday revealed that while onion prices eased marginally from its previous high, a whole range of pulses and poultry turned dearer on a year-on-year basis. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee described the jump in food inflation after a week's decline as an area of ‘grave concern'.
While inflation in eggs, meat and fish eased to 13.17 per cent during the week when compared to 28.7 per cent in the like week last year, it was higher than the 9.28 per cent for the week ended September 10 this year. Likewise, even as inflation in onion prices was down to 17 per cent from 22 per cent last year, it was up to 15 per cent in potato prices.
Commenting on the WPI data, Mr. Mukherjee said: “Unfortunately again, food inflation has gone up and it is perilously close to the double digit figure… Major contributors are of course the pulses — gram, masoor, arhar, urad — poultry chicken and certain other factors. These fluctuations are taking place and it is one of the areas of grave concern.''
According to economic analysts, a decline in food inflation could come about only later this year largely owing to a ‘high base' effect, considering that it was at a high of over 17 per cent during the same week last year.
As per the data, while WPI inflation in non-food articles, including fibres, oil seeds and minerals, came down sharply to 12.89 per cent during the week ended September 17 from 17.42 per cent a week ago, inflation in the fuel and power segment went up to 14.69 per cent from 13.96 per cent during the same period.
“As a result [of lower non-food articles' inflation], WPI inflation in primary articles has declined. But fuel and power, light and lubricants, they have also contributed [to rising inflation],” Mr. Mukherjee said.
For August, headline inflation, which includes manufactured items, food and non-food primary articles as also fuel and power, stood pegged at a 13-month high of 9.78 per cent.