New Delhi: Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday again targeted the cement and steel manufacturers saying they were acting like a cartel. He warned them saying that the government was looking at legal and administrative measures to deal with them in order to contain runaway inflation.
“It is my view that cement manufactuers and to some extent steel producers are behaving like a cartel,” he said replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha.
MRTPC is conducting an inquiry into the allegations of cartelisation, he said. “We are looking at legal and administrative provisons that are available to the government,” he added. He also informed that the ministeries of steel and industry were talking to the industry.
The weekly inflation rate of Wholesale Price Index (WPI) stood at 6.7% as on March 15, 2008 and reached 7.4% on March 29. However, it had come down to 7.1% as on April 5.
“Containment of inflation remains high on the agenda of the government,” he said. “As and when necessary, more fiscal measures will be taken. We have taken a set of fiscal measures and some more fiscal mesaures are being contemplated.”
The Reserve Bank of India had last week hiked the percentage of money the banks are supposed to keep idle (Cash Reserve Ratio) by 50 basis points. Its monetary policy review is due on April 29 and the government will wait and see the steps taken by RBI, he said.
Chidambaram, however, stressed that there were no quick-fix solutions to tackling inflation. “It will take some time for fiscal and monetary measures to take effect.”
Asked about the reported differences among the Ministry of Finance and other ministeries including commerce and industry, he said: “There is no difference of opinion. When 3-4 ministers meet, we exchange views (on the issue).”