Prices of wheat, potato reviewed

Special Correspondent

Prices moderating, no cause for concern: Cabinet panel

Sugar prices expected to come down soon in the light of expectations of high productionWheat prices have come down in the northern region; south to follow suit with more arrival

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet's Committee on Prices met on Thursday and reviewed the prices of sugar, wheat and potato, which had been ruling high in different parts of the country in recent times. The meeting concluded that there was no cause for concern.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Union Finance Minister and Cabinet spokesperson, P. Chidambaram, said the prices of the three commodities were moderating and there was no need for any measure, but for a close monitoring of the situation.

In respect of sugar, he said the prices were expected to come down soon in the light of expectations of very high sugar production this year. "The international prices are high and so are the prices at the national level. The Food and Civil Supplies Ministry is taking several steps such as conversion of unutilised free sale sugar quota into levy sugar. The situation is being monitored closely."

On the wheat front, he said the prices had come down in the northern region, and they would soon be falling in the southern region too with the arrival of five lakh tonnes at the southern ports in the near future.

He ruled out any adverse impact on wheat production on account of the recent un-seasonal rain in the wheat-growing areas in north India and the unusually hot weather last month. "According to some agriculture experts, the rain could have even had a beneficial effect. The Ministry of Agriculture is not thinking of any downward revision of the estimates for wheat production," he said.

On potato, he said the prices of the commodity were also moderating and there did not seem to be any cause for concern. "The onion prices are down now. Perhaps, one could eat more onion. ... The housewife knows which vegetable to use," he quipped.

The inflation rate, he said, was also moderate, at 4.29 per cent last week and suggested that it could remain around the same level this week too. He, however, refused to hazard a guess. "I do not have the habit of speculating. The figure for this week would be out tomorrow [Friday]."