Manmohan Singh to preside over price rise meeting

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New Delhi, Apr 8 (ANI): The first meeting of the high-powered committee on price rise, constituted by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, will convene its first meeting today.

The committee, comprising Chief Ministers of ten states, was constituted on February 6 after a day-long deliberation on the price rise between Dr. Singh and state chief ministers.

Dr. Singh is also expected to address the panel, which comprises Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

According to sources, the ways and means to reform agricultural marketing will also be discussed the meeting.

The Congress Party is facing flak from the opposition over the price rise of essential commodities.

The wholesale price index rose 7.3 percent in December from a year earlier, its highest since November 2008, and accelerated from a 4.8 percent gain in November.

The rise was driven by near 20 percent jump in food prices, which rose on weak monsoon rains and flooding in parts of the country, but inflation in manufacturing products picked up to 5.2 percent from four percent in November, a sign that inflationary pressures were spreading to other sectors of the economy.

Sugar, in particular, has been a problem, with Congress Party caught in the middle of competing demands from consumers who want lower prices while cane farmers seek higher prices for their produce.

The supply situation deteriorated further in recent months when Uttar Pradesh, seeking to help cane farmers, banned processing raw sugar, jamming 750,000 tonnes of raw sugar at ports. (ANI)

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