New Delhi, July 24 The Centre has urged states to remove all local taxes and consider capping the prices of pulses, edible oils and other essential commodities to help make these available at "reasonable prices".
States have also been requested to keep a close watch on hoarding and black-marketing of essential commodities in view of the coming festival season, said a statement issued on Sunday by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
"In a letter written to Chief Secretaries, Hem Pande, the Secretary of Department of Consumer Affairs, has asked the states to take up market intervention on a real time basis and to review APMC Acts on priority to delist pulses and other essential food items so that farmers can sell their produce at any place of their choice," said the statement.
"It will ensure reasonable prices for consumers and also fetch better prices for farmers," it said.
An Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act requires farmers to sell their produce only to middlemen approved by the government in authorised Mandis.
The Consumer Affairs Secretary has invited states' attention towards the action plan adopted for this purpose at the states food ministers' meeting held in May this year.
"States have also been requested to consider a pricing policy for pulses and such other essential food items under Section 3(2) (c) of the Essential Commodities Act and to make it enforceable for all the stake-holders to cap the prices of essential commodities," the statement said.
Hem Pande also asked the states to implement the Price Stabilisation Fund Scheme for market intervention to enhance availability and check prices of essentials.
States have been asked to create a robust information management system of prices, production, availability, unscrupulous trading, hoarding, black marketing and to strengthen the price monitoring cells to have the ground zero information available on a daily basis.
"A monthly report on enforcement actions under the Essential Commodities Act and Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act is mandatory to ensure regular review of the same at highest level and to make public the Action Taken Report of States regularly on the website of Department of Consumer Affairs," the statement said.