Inflation expected to come down further: PM, FM

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New Delhi, Apr 18 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram today expressed the hope that inflation would come down further, but Mr Chidambaram ruled out ''miracles'' and cautioned against ''jumping to conclusions.'' ''Let us hope so,'' Dr Singh told reporters who wanted to know whether prices of essential commodities would moderate further in the wake of a 0.27 per cent fall in the inflation and the Reserve Bank of India's move to curtail money circulation by raising the cash reserve ratio (CRR) for the banks.

Mr Chidambaram, however, asked the reporters ''not to jump to conclusions or expect miracles'' as the government could not do much if the international prices of commodities that India was importing were on the rise.

Citing examples, the Finance Minister said the crude prices had touched an all time high of 115 dollars a barrel this morning and the cost of urea, other fertilisers, palm oil, pulses and many metals had either doubled or trebled in the past nine months.

''Is there any way I can reduce the prices of these items'' in the global market? he reasoned.

''As long as we are importing these items and unless the international prices also moderate, we will be under pressure,'' Mr Chidambaram said.

The government could take some steps on what was domestically produced, but ''we have no control over commodities which are imported...and therefore one has to be patient. We should not panic and lose our nerve,'' he said and hoped that international prices of some commodities would come down in about ten days, having a positive impact on inflation.

He said the RBI raised the CRR after consulting him yesterday and that this move would suck out about Rs 18,000 crore from circulation and to this extent it would moderate demand and prices. ''But don't expect miracles. It will take some time...maybe ten days,'' he added.

Both Dr Singh and Mr Chidambaram were talking to reporters after a function held at the official residence of the Prime Minister at 7 Race Course Road to release commemorative coins to mark the 150th anniversary of the first war of independence.

UNI SN RP BST1959

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