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Centre takes steps to stabilise commodities prices

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Sep 1 (UNI) In a bid to stabilise the prices of essential commodities, the Centre has taken a slew of measures including restoration of powers of states for imposing stock-holding limits of wheat and pulses, augmentation of domestic supplies of food items and ban on exports of pulses and sugar.

These steps have been necessitated because of delay in the arrival of imported wheat, low stocks and lower than expected production of wheat this year.

''The prices of certain essential commodities such as wheat, sugar and pulses registered an upward trend during the past few months. The reasons for rise in prices of food items are shortfall in domestic supplies relative to demand and hardening of international prices,'' Mr L Mansingh, Secretary, Consumer Affairs, told reporters here today.

Now state governments are allowed to impose stock-holding limits for wheat and pulses under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, to check the further price rise.

The Centre's fiat reimposes stock limit and movement restrictions which were removed on February 15, 2002 and June 16, 2003 thereby dispensing away with licensing requirements for foodstuffs.

The new Central Government order, effective from August 29 is not applicable in the case of licensing/permission regarding purchase, movement, sale, supply, distribution or storage of wheat and pulses for six months, Mr Mansingh said.

However, this order would not apply to transport, distribution or disposal of wheat and pulses to places outside the state or import of these commodities, he said.

Besides, a Price Monitoring Cell has been set up for the essential commodities to examines the rates on daily basis at retail, wholesale and future trading levels.

The Secretary maintained the prices of wheat, sugar and pulses (particularly urad, moong and chana) have gone up because of stagnation in production and increase in per capita consumption every year, resulting in demand-supply gap.

India has been importing about 1.5 million to 2 million tonnes of these pulses annually mainly from Myanmar. And, this year Pakistan's pulses crop also failed and it entered the international market hiking further the prices.

Regarding wheat he said the procurement was short of the target and to augment the supply position, the government had to import wheat and private players were also allowed for the same.

The country is expecting bumper production of sugar this year and the prices in the retail market have started falling. The spot price at mill gate has come down to Rs 1700 per quintal and impact of this would gradually be seen in the retail market also.

Mr Mansingh said that the state government have been asked to initiative steps to ensure availability of essential commodities at reasonable prices.

Referring to the import of wheat Mr Mansingh said the import was meant to build up the inventory of buffer stock.

Against the contracted quantity of 49,300 MTs of Urad/Moong, around 73 per cent stocks of pulses have already been shipped and shipment advice of the same have been received by NAFED. The balance quantity of Urad/Moong is likely to be shipped within this week.

So far, 29,753 MTs of pulses (25,374 MTs of Urad and 4,379 MTs of Moong) have arrived at the Chennai Port. Nafed has disposed of 9,965 MTS of imported pulses, Mr Mansingh said.


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