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Panel raps government for price rise

Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: The Parliamentary Committee on the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has rapped the government for not taking timely steps to check the rise in prices of essential commodities and for burdening the consumers with inflation.

The committee noted that although the government had been vigilant about the adverse impact of the price rise on the economy culminating in inflationary trends, the measures it took were not proving to be effective in bringing down the prices of essential commodities.

Questioning the import of wheat during 2007-08, when the “availability of domestic wheat exceeded demand,” the panel observed that the government could not take timely steps to address issues such as high open market prices, less than targeted production, less market arrivals, negative market sentiments and more private participation that contributed to less procurement of wheat and high price of foodstuff.

The panel, chaired by the former Minister, Devendra Prasad Yadav, asked the government to draw a long-term strategy to meet the situation, as had prevailed in the last two years, so that it did not assume gigantic proportions, affecting the development and growth of the country.

“They should also take such steps that would insulate the domestic prices of commodities from international price fluctuations.” The panel’s 27th report was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

Increase production

The fall in production of farm produce, be it of wheat, pulses or edible oils, contributed to the rise in the prices of commodities.

The panel said that the gap between demand and production was expected to continue through the Eleventh Five-year Plan period.

To increase production, the government should give special attention to invigorating soil conditions, water management and growing alternate crops.

The panel asked the government not to permit use of vegetable oils for bio-fuel as long as their local production was in short supply.

Conversion of vegetable oil and soya oil to bio-fuels should be restricted and bio-diesel plants should utilise only oil from non-edible oilseeds from plants grown on wasteland.

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