Don't politicize price rice : Congress

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New Delhi, Apr: The Congress today said there was no need to panic on account of inflation reaching 7.41 per cent, but assured that it would come under control when the wheat harvest commenced.

"There is no need for being panicky as such scare-mongering only fuelled inflation further," AICC General Secretary In - Charge of Media Veerappa Moily said here, while asking the state governments to pro-actively enforce the Essential Commodities Act to curb speculation and act tough against hoarders and speculators. "This is not the time to play politics," Mr Moily said at a press conference at the party headquarters, and asserted, that the government would take drastic steps to protect the aam aadmi if the prices did not come under control.

Asked to spell out the options of drastic measures available before the government, he said : "If inflation was to go totally out of hand, the government has enormous powers of rationing, physical controls and permits. But we do not wish to go back to the old regressive regime of controls and permits and would prefer to use more sophisticated policy measures." Saying that the inflation was not demand driven, he said there was sufficient stock of food articles. As many as 5.8 million tonnes of wheat were available as against a buffer stock norm of five million tonnes. In the case of rice, the availability was 13.8 million tonnes as against a norm of 12.2 tonnes.

Similarly, the wheat harvest was likely to touch 75 million tonnes as compared to the annual demand of 72 million tonnes. With regards and rice production, against a demand of 88 million tonnes, production would be about 94 million tonnes .

"There is sufficient cushion available as far as food stocks are concerned, " Mr Moily said. Referring to edible oil and pulses stock position, he said three million tonnes of edible oils (soya and palm oil) and five million tonnes of pulses had been imported.

"The recent duty cuts have already led to 16 per cent reduction in edible oil prices in the domestic market and there is also some global softening in the price of these two commodities." Mr Moily said price of steel should also come down once the construction activity slowed down because of the monsoon. Pointing out that the government had already taken many fiscal and trade related steps in the form of tax duty cuts, Mr Moily said their impact would be felt gradually.


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