Food prices may come down after rabi harvest: FM

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New Delhi, Apr 3: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that food prices may come down after the rabi harvest.

"The inflation is due to non-availability of certain commodities. The supply bottleneck is one of the reasons," Mukherjee said in a news agency report.

"We are taking steps. After the rabi harvest, the prices of food items should come down," he said.

Pointing that the country's total production of pulses was only 14 million tonnes, while the actual requirement was 18 million, Mukherjee said that the shortfall in quantity will be compensated by importing it.

“There is a shortfall of 4 million tonnes and we have to import it."

“Very few countries produce pulses and the international prices are also high. The same is the case with sugar. There is a shortfall of about 90 lakh tonnes," Mr. Mukherjee said, adding that the country has to import about 20 lakh tonnes of edible oil.

Mukherjee said that the prices of sugar might eased out a little in the wake of the fall in international price of sugar due to entry of a Brazilian product in the market.

Referring to the scrapping of the import duty on rice, Mukherjee said that the appropriate measures are being taken to import required quantities of other food products.

On roll back of fuel prices, Mukherjee said that rolling back of fuel prices was out of question.

"There is no question of rolling back the prices. I have explained it in Parliament that I have not imposed any new taxes," he said

“When the crude oil prices went as high as $127 per barrel, this (duty) was relaxed. Naturally, when the price has come down to $67 per barrel, I find there is no justification for continuing the relief," he said, asserting that the increase in the customs duty of crude oil to 5 per cent “was in operation before".

Asked to comment on the Women"s Reservation Bill, Mukherjee said that it would be inappropriate to make any statement ahead of the all-party meeting to discuss the Bill on Monday, Apr 5.

"I cannot comment on it now," he said. “Let us wait for the outcome of the all-party meet," he said.

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