Scam in export, import of onion: CPI-M

New Delhi, Jan 13 (PTI) Indicating a scam in the exportand import of onions and some other essential items, CPI(M)today said the prices of these commodities were rising evenwhen there was more than enough supply in the market.

"The same traders that benefited from export incentives(on sugar earlier) are now benefiting from duty-free imports.

Is this a reflection of the bizarre ways of this government oris there a scam waiting to unfold," senior party leaderSitaram Yechury asked.

French Queen Marie Antoinette "who infamously screamedduring the French Revolution that if people cannot get bread,why don''t they eat cakes, would indeed have been a happyperson now in India," he said in an editorial in theforthcoming issue of CPI(M) organ ''People''s Democracy''.

Maintaining that the UPA government has "miserably failed"to discharge its collective responsibility to check prices,Yechury said while there were "much expectations" that priceswould come down after the Cabinet reviewed the pricesituation, there was ''passing the buck'' within the UPAcoalition partners.

"The high-profile Congress general secretary (RahulGandhi) hinted that compulsions of a coalition governmentprevented the undertaking of effective measures to containthis price rise. The spokesman of the Nationalist CongressParty, whose chief is the minister for agriculture, shot backwith references to successful coalition governments in Italy!"

Observing that it would be wrong to conclude thatsupply-demand mismatch was the prime cause for price rise, hesaid in Delhi, when the supply of onions nearly doubled from730 tonnes to 1144 tonnes on December 20-21, the wholesaleprice fell from Rs 55 to Rs 50 per kg, but the retail pricerose from Rs 75 to Rs 80.

"Clearly, there is more to this price rise than meresupply-demand mismatch", Yechury said, adding that in the lastnine months of 2010, the wholesale price index for vegetablesrose 67 per cent. "The retail prices have soared much higher,making chicken cheaper than onions!"

Talking of sugar in early 2010, he said when its pricesstarted to soar, exports were banned and imports encouraged byeliminating all import duties. Yet, the prices did not beginto climb down.

Noting that the government refused to ban speculativetrading despite continued demand by Left parties, the CPI(M)leader said speculation was pushing up the prices of allessential commodities particularly food prices.

"Unless such speculative trading is banned, the excessfoodgrain stocks rotting in central government godowns arereleased to the states for sale through public distributionsystem and the budgetary hikes in the prices of petroleumproducts are rolled back, no relief for the aam admi ispossible," Yechury said.

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