Ranchi: Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday admitted that price rise has been a cause of concern for the government but said that a downward trend has been noticed during the past fortnight.
“There is no denial (that) certain essential commodities are having high prices but fortunately for the last one and a half weeks we have been noticing a downward trend, but it will take some more time,” Mukherjee said.
Noting that prices of cereals, fruits and vegetables have been on the higher side, Mukherjee said that if the shortage in supply was not made up through import or other measures, then the prices would go up.
“Take pulses for instance, the rate has been increased substantially. Our total requirement is 18 million tonne. Our total production is 14 MT, a huge shortfall of 4 MT,” Mukherjee said adding: “It has not been possible to bridge this gap through import because very few countries cultivate pulses. We are importing from some countries, but it is not adequate.“
“Similar was the case with sugar, whose production is surplus once in every three years,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the shortfall in sugar has happened at a time when the international production has also gone down while prices too remain high,” he said.
“We have allowed not only government agencies but also private traders to import these essential commodities without any import duty. It is under open general license,but adequate imports are not taking place because the imported price is high and the domestic price is lower. That is why the traders are not importing,” Mukherjee said.
On edible oil, he said that there was a shortfall of more than ten million tonne.
“The total production of all sorts of edible oil is about 18 to 20 MT. Our requirement is 28 to 30 MT. Therefore there is also a gap,” the finance minister said.
Referring to Jharkhand, he charged that the poor PDS mechanism in the state deprived the BPL classes from availing essential commodities at cheaper rates.