New Delhi: Admitting that rising food prices were hurting the common man, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday asked states to make the public distribution system (PDS) functional and effective to ensure that vulnerable sections were protected from the impact of price rise.
“The public distribution system must be in place. It must be functional. It must be active. Sitting from the Centre, it is not possible to run PDS... It is primarily a responsibility of the state governments,” Mukherjee said in reply to the debate on Finance Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Referring to 20% food inflation in December last year, he said high prices of essential commodities are affecting the life of the common man.
It has since come down and is now hovering around 17%.
“No doubt inflation is an important issue. It is affecting the life of common people... if the food inflation is high, any kind of economic logic is not going to satisfy the hungry man,” he said.
He said the government’s strategy is to provide subsidy on foodgrains to the needy.
The finance minister said the government has decided to offload food stocks to states at prices at which the Centre procures them and assured the country that adequate food stocks are available.
It is not possible to provide subsidy across the board, he said, adding that the government is already providing subsidized foodgrains to the vulnerable section.
The Centre provides Rs2 a kg rice under Antyodaya scheme, Rs4 a kg to those classified as living below the poverty line and at Rs6.8 a kg to those above the poverty line.
Food inflation moderated to 16.61% during the week ended 17 April from over 20% in December last year.