WB would assist Kerala to overcome rice scarcity:Minister

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 5 (UNI) West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta today said his Government will extend all help to Kerala for bridging the gap of rice shortage.

Addressing newspersons after the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers here, he said '' we will do our best to help Kerala though it is the responsibility of the Centre.'' On the price hike, Mr Dasgupta said the Left ruling states had cautioned the Centre about impending situation a year back.

Though the Centre had started taking some steps for containing price hike, the United Progressive Alliance(UPA) Government should have thought of it a year ago, he added.

During several meetings with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura had raised the issue.

On US President George Bush's statement on Indian food eating habits, he said it was totally unacceptable.

He said price hike was not discussed at the meeting in detail.

Mr Dasgupta said indiscriminate export of Iron, fall in food production and advance commodity purchase were some of the reasons for the price hike.

The minister also said that the Public Distribution System (PDS) should be strengthened in the country to overcome hurdles.

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