Agri ministry can''t be blamed for price rise: Pawar

Pune, Jan 15 (PTI) Absolving his ministry of theresponsibility for price rise, Agriculture Minister SharadPawar today said policies to control inflation are discussedand formulated at the "highest level" involving participationof Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

"It is a collective decision-making process in whichinflation control measures are discussed at the highest level,including Prime Minister, Pranab Mukherjee and economicadviser to the PM. We gather state-wise information forguidelines to form a policy," Pawar told reporters at Manchar,about 100 km from Pune.

Responding to a suggestion that Congress was targetingNCP on this issue, Pawar only said, "It is not right to blameagriculture ministry for the price rise."

"The responsibility of agriculture ministry is to seethat adequate production of wheat, rice, sugar and oilseeds istaking place in the country. Now, we have stocks for the nexttwo to three years. In India, wheat, rice and sugar arecheaper, compared to other countries," the NCP chief said.

When asked about the proposed meeting of Finance MinisterPranab Mukherjee with the state finance ministers to discussprice-rise, Pawar, who attended a function at a dairy plant atManchar, said, "It could be a pre-budget discussion."

Replying to another query, Pawar said the ban on onionexports would be reviewed when the situation warrants it.

On milk prices, he said the hike was due to the gapbetween demand and supply. The minister said the governmentwas considering offering incentives for development of dairysector.

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