United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre has a confused economic policy, Communist Party of India leader D. Raja has said.

Talking to journalists here on Friday, he said the Government had no explanation to price rise in the backdrop of a negative inflation.

“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Planning Commission Chairman Montek Singh Aluwhalia and other economists in the Government are unable to explain the increase in commodity prices despite having a negative inflation.”

Mr. Raja also said that the powers that be were trying to attribute the price rise to current drought, which was not true. “While it is true that the drought may further push up prices, it is not the reason for price rise. The real reason is UPA’s economic policy that has led to a continuous rise in prices since 2006.”

The CPI leader wanted the Union Government to strengthen and widen public distribution system (PDS).

“The Government should not make a distinction between above and below poverty line families because the distinction is not clear. Various arms of the Government have different yardsticks and in the absence of

a clear definition, the Government must extend and widen the PDS.”

He said it was imperative to do so given the fact that 70 per cent of India’s population survives on less than Rs. 20 a day.

Mr. Raja then touched upon India’s free trade agreement with ASEAN and its stand at WTO.

“Central Government must not give in to U.S. pressure at the WTO talks. It must act in the interest of India’s poor and agriculture and aim at asking the U.S. and other developed nations to reduce their subsidy,” he said and sought a white paper on the issue from the Government.

“The Government must come forward to file a report and debate the same in Parliament.”

He also sought a similar approach to the free trade agreement it had inked with ASEAN nations.

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