Special Correspondent

‘States have to check hoarding to ensure availability of foodgrains’

‘Centre taking steps to reduce sugar shortage’

BANGALORE: Union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas on Monday put the onus of checking the price rise of essential commodities on the State Governments.

“Basically the responsibility of ensuring that foodgrains are available at affordable prices by preventing hoarding lies with the State Governments,” the Minister told presspersons on the sidelines of the inaugural session of Viv India-2010, a three-day international conference and exhibition on livestock in Bangalore on Monday.

He was quick to add that the Union Government too had a role in checking the price rise and that it was already executing its responsibility.

Prof. Thomas said the responsibility of State Governments in arresting the price rise was more in the cases where there was no scarcity of commodities.

Referring to the issue of steep hike in sugar prices due to shortage situation, he said the Union Government was taking steps to reduce the shortage through imports.

Prof. Thomas said the Union Government was taking care of foodgrains’ requirement of BPL families through public distribution system. Similarly, the State should take steps to ensure that foodgrains were adequately available for the Above Poverty Level (APL) ration card holders.

He said the Union Government had provided huge subsidies towards procurement of foodgrains under PDS scheme in the last five years. Besides, the consumer prices had never been increased under the PDS though the minimum support price for farmers had been increased five times in the last five years, he said. When his attention was drawn to the views by a section of political leaders that allowing 17 essential commodities for future trading could be the reason for the price rise, he only said “we have to examine the issue.”

Following a request from the poultry industry, Prof. Thomas said he would hold talks with Kerala Government in a bid to convince it about the need to either withdraw or reduce the tax being slapped on poultry products in that State.

Earlier, the poultry sector representatives had expressed concern that Kerala was slapping a tax of 12.5 per cent on poultry products while other States had exempted them from taxes.