Centre to take all measures to contain food prices: Goyal

Goyal highlighted that the government has spent in the last few years about ₹28,000 crore to the price stabilisation fund to support the effort to fight against food inflation.

March 09, 2024 02:33 pm | Updated 02:33 pm IST - New Delhi

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal during an interview, at the PTI office, in New Delhi, Friday, March 8, 2024.

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal during an interview, at the PTI office, in New Delhi, Friday, March 8, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Centre will pull all stops to ensure prices of essential food items from onion to tomatoes to pulses do not spike particularly during the elections, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said as he cited the Modi government's track record of controlling rates within days of any temporary hike.

In an interview with PTI, Mr. Goyal, who is heading the Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry, asserted that the Modi government would continue to take measures to ensure that there is no stress on the household budget of "our Nari-Shakti".

Replying to a query regarding the government's strategy to ensure that there are no spikes in prices of food items when the general election kicks in, the Minister said, "We are going to be on top of it. And I can assure the people of India that this government cares for the women of India."

He highlighted that the government has spent in the last few years about ₹28,000 crore to the price stabilisation fund to support the effort to fight against food inflation.

"We will continue to be there with our sisters and mothers and make sure that we do not give stress...We are pro-actively on the job to make sure that we respect our Nari- Shakti and respect that they need to get a better household budget," Mr. Goyal asserted.

The Election Commission is expected to announce the poll schedule soon and the Lok Sabha elections are likely to be held in April-May.

The Minister spoke at length about the government's various measures in the last few years to check prices of food items like onion, tomato, and pulses.

"When the whole world was facing severe inflation, particularly food inflation, and never seen before levels, some countries of the developed world were showing 40-year high inflation, India was a bright spot in the subject of inflation," he said.

During the UPA-era, Mr. Goyal said, the inflation was at high levels and food prices were going haywire. "If you look at the India story, even during the worst times, we were able to maintain our inflation at pretty much reasonable levels."

"We did not allow any product to see spikes beyond a point. If we saw any product going expensive, very often for reasons beyond our control, we acted immediately," he said.

Citing examples of price rise in tomatoes because of rains in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka and at about the same time, Mr. Goyal said the government immediately intervened and started procuring tomatoes from other regions to boost supplies across the country.

"We didn't allow the price to remain at those elevated levels beyond a few days. And as soon as the government intervention came in, prices came back to normal levels," he said.

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The Food and Consumer Minister added that similar efforts were taken when the prices of onion and pulses rose beyond reasonable levels.

"Even at nominal increases, the government now takes proactive measures," he said.

To provide relief to the common man, Mr. Goyal highlighted that the Centre has introduced Bharat Chana daal at ₹60 per kg; Bharat Atta (wheat flour) at ₹27.50 per kg and Bharat rice at ₹29 per kg for sale in the open market.

These steps, he said, have brought "salutary effects" on prices.

"Inflation of food has been kept under control and our overall inflation is also very much within the RBI mandate," he said.

Referring to the government's latest estimate about lower onion output in 2023-24, he said, "I can assure you that the government will be proactive in its effort".

The government has 18,000 outlets of NCCF, NAFED, Kendriya Bhandar and retail stores of state governments for sale of subsidised items like pulses, aata and rice.

That apart, he said, the government has also roped in e-commerce platforms for sale of these goods.

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