Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Traders and hoteliers will slash the prices of all essential commodities and food items by five per cent with effect from Wednesday.

They gave this promise at a conference called by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan here on Tuesday to discuss how to check the rise in the prices of essential commodities. Minister for Civil Supplies C. Divakaran also attended the meeting.

Mr. Achuthanandan said the steps the Government initiated to hold back the prices started paying dividends. If intermediaries could be avoided in the supply chain, essential commodities would reach the hands of the common man at lower prices. The Government would do this and strengthen the supply of items of everyday-need through the outlets of the Civil Supplies Department.

The Horticorp would procure vegetables directly from vegetable-producing regions such as Palakkad, Kanthallur and Vattavila.

The Government was also considering whether it could organise weekly markets at panchayat levels.

A high-level committee would closely monitor the price situation.

Mr. Achuthanandan said the Centre drastically reduced the supply of wheat, rice and sugar to the State for supply through the public distribution system in recent years. This had weakened the system's capacity to check price rise.

He said the State would take up the issue with the Centre. Mr. Divakaran said the Government would strongly intervene in the market using the sales outlets under the Civil Supplies Department. The department would also conduct raids to prevent hoarding.

He said traders and hoteliers were told at the meeting that they should install display boards in their establishments showing the prices of the commodities on sale.

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