Price stability high on agenda, will take more measures: Govt

New Delhi, Feb 22 (PTI) The government today said highfood inflation is adversely affecting the common man and itintends to employ various measures to tackle the situation,including schemes that will facilitate opening up farmers''mandis and mobile bazaars.

Some of the important steps the government intends toimplement include schemes enabling state governments to set upfarmer''s mandis and mobile bazaars, strengthening of thePublic Distribution System (PDS) through computerisation andopening more procurement windows across the country, Ministerof State for Finance Namo Narain Meena told the Rajya Sabha ina written reply.

The government also intends to review the AgricultureProduce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act to consider exemptinghorticulture products from its purview, thereby mitigatingmarketing and distribution bottlenecks, he said.

State governments would be urged to consider waivingmandi tax, octroi and other local levies, as well as reducecommission agent charges, while encouraging investment insupply chains, he added.

In another written reply, he said, "High inflationaffects the common man on account of reduction in the value ofcurrency relative to goods and services."

The government monitors the price situation regularly, asprice stability remains high on its agenda, he said.

Measures taken to contain prices of essential commoditiesinclude a selective ban on exports and futures trading in foodgrains, zero import duty on select food items and permittingthe import of pulses and sugar by public sector undertakings,he said.

In addition, he said, state governments are empowered toact against hoarders of food items under the EssentialCommodities Act, 1955.

As part of the inflation control measures, various stategovernments issued almost 350 detention orders againsthoarders in 2009 and 2010 under various regulations.

During 2009, 147 detention orders were issued againsthoarders and traders in six states, while in 2010, itincreased to 205, he said.

In a separate reply, Meena said, year-on-year inflationin fruits and vegetables stood at 22.7 per cent in December,2010, mainly on account of higher prices of onions.

The rise in prices of onions was partly due to cyclonicrains, which affected onion crops in Maharashtra andKarnataka, he said.

Replying to another question, Meena said the tax-GDPratio for 2009-10 stood at 9.6 per cent, compared to 10.8 percent in the previous fiscal.

Going forward, in tandem with a pick-up in gross taxrevenues, the tax-GDP ratio would improve with restoration ofthe trend rates of growth in GDP at Current Market Prices. PTIDP ARV

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