Food prices to soften in the coming weeks: Rangarajan

New Delhi, Jan 13 (PTI) The Prime Minister''s economicpanel today said food prices are expected to soften in thecoming weeks, even as food inflation stood at 16.91 per centfor the week ended January 1.

"I expect some softening of food prices in the comingweeks, coming months," Prime Minister''s Economic AdvisoryCouncil (PMEAC) Chairman C Rangarajan told PTI.

"There is normally seasonal decline in these month(November and December) but unfortunately that seasonaldecline was not seen," he said.

Food inflation is an area of concern for the common manand government with rate of price rise touching as high as18.32 per cent in the last week of December mainly fueled bymass consumption items like vegetables, milk and protein-baseditems.

Food inflation has remained high for the entire month ofDecember. The rising food prices will get reflected in themonthly inflation data for December, scheduled to be announcedtomorrow. The headline inflation in November had come down to7.48 per cent from 8.58 per cent a month ago.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said thegovernment will announce more steps to contain inflation laterin the day.

"Last evening, it (steps to check inflation) wasfinalised. I think it will be issued today", he said answeringquestions on yesterday''s meeting to check rising food prices.

"We have analysed the situation. We have indicated whatfurther steps we are going to take. We have also indicatedthat there should not be any unnecessary panic," he said.

At the same time, rising inflation may put pressure onthe Reserve Bank to hike key policy rates in the upcomingpolicy review scheduled on January 25.

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