New cell to track food prices soon | Mint

New cell to track food prices soon

Food inflation is currently at 6.61%. (Mint)
Food inflation is currently at 6.61%. (Mint)

Summary

  • The Centre is looking to strengthen price monitoring of essential commodities such as food grains, pulses, wheat, rice, maize and other food items through a thorough analysis

Worried about containing food inflation with the general elections on the horizon, the Centre is planning to create a special cell under the Department of Food and Public Distribution to strengthen price monitoring of essential commodities such as food grains, pulses, wheat, rice, maize and other food items through a thorough analysis.

Since 2017, an interministerial committee (IMC) has been reviewing essential commodities’ prices and policies every week, after collecting data from the website of the department of consumer affairs. The IMC comprises a committee of ministers and a committee of secretaries (CoS) from the ministries of agriculture, food & public distribution and commerce, among others, and is currently headed by home minister Amit Shah.

Queries sent to the Department of Food and Public Distribution remained unanswered.

While the IMC already keeps an eye on food prices, a need is felt for a special cell that will alert it and various government agencies to large variations in domestic and international prices of key food items. Such a cell would augment the existing manpower of CoS for this work, the official informed. “Till now, the special cell has not been created, and the work envisaged by the CoS is being carried out by a division of the department in addition to its own work," the official said.

The special cell would not look at edible oils and sugar, as these are tracked by the directorate of sugar and edible oil. “The officials of this division have domain knowledge in edible oils and sugar only, but now, a complete analysis of wheat, rice, and maize, too, is required to be done as the ambit of IMC has broadened," the official added.

“It has been requested that two AD (additional director) or DD (deputy director)-level economic service officers adept at econometric modelling and analysis be posted in this department at the earliest," the official said.

In recent times, the government has taken a series of preventive measures, including imposing a ban on exports of essential commodities such as rice, to contain food inflation, which is currently at 6.61% and is contributing significantly to overall retail inflation.

The special cell, once set up, would augment the analysis needed to make such decisions.

On 29 October, Mint had reported that the government was planning to create a real-time supply-and-demand model for select agricultural commodities that will help it plan and evaluate policy for a volatile market. The “mathematical model" will use dynamic and real-time data from high-frequency indicators and historical trends.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
more

MINT SPECIALS

Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App