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Updated: October 19, 2009 14:51 IST

Cabinet panel reviews prices of essential commodities

PTI
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Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma:
The Hindu Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma: "“The Government is absolutely confident of ensuring availability of essential commodities at adequate prices.” Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

The Government on Monday said it will ensure availability of rice, wheat, sugar and other essential commodities at reasonable prices, amid growing concerns about rising prices.

The Cabinet Committee on Prices, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reviewed comprehensively prices and availability of essential commodities like wheat, rice and sugar, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters here after the meeting.

“The Government is absolutely confident of ensuring availability of essential commodities at adequate prices,” he said. The ministries of food and agriculture have been asked to issue a detailed note on the situation, he added.

“The government is monitoring the price situation on a regular basis,” he said.

Sugar currently costs Rs 30-32 per kg in retail market, which has doubled since last year. While wheat is available at Rs 13 per kg and rice in the range of Rs 16-20 per kg on an average, maintaining a steady price, other items such as milk, onion and potato have seen a significant rise in recent months.

The Government, which maintains buffer stocks of food grains for supply under the public distribution system and to meet exigencies, had 153.49 lakh tonnes of rice and 284.57 lakh tonnes of wheat as on October 1, 2009.

As per the norm, there should be a minimum stock of 52 lakh tonnes of rice and 110 lakh tonnes of wheat as on October 1 every year. So, the total stock of foodgrains with central pool has jumped nearly four-fold than the buffer norm.

In case of sugar, the country is facing a shortage and is meeting the demand through imports. Production of sugar is estimated at 160 lakh tonnes for current season while the country has a demand size of 230-240 lakh tonnes.

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