New Delhi: India’s food price inflation held above 17% for a fifth week, maintaining pressure on finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to continue exempting imports of rice, wheat and sugar from tax in Friday’s Budget.
An index measuring wholesale prices of lentils, rice, vegetables and other food articles compiled by the commerce ministry rose 17.58% in the week ended 13 February from a year earlier, after a 17.97% gain the previous week, according to a statement in New Delhi on Thursday.
The Railway Budget on Wednesday reduced freight rates for ferrying grains to support the government’s efforts to slow food price inflation. Mukherjee, who said on 23 February that the country will continue with several anti-inflationary measures in the next fiscal year, is due to unveil his budget plans at 11am on Friday
“The big focus of the Budget will be to mitigate the inflationary pressures,” N.R. Bhanumurthy, an economist at the New Delhi-based National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, said before the food inflation report. “The bigger concern going forward will be to tackle the rise in manufacturing inflation and control the budget deficit.”
Manish Modi in New Delhi contributed to this story.