Govt acts to arrest price rise
Sugar to be imported
Here’s some sweet news. The soaring prices of essential commodities will start coming down in 8-10 days, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday.
After an emergent meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Prices headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Pawar told reporters that the government would increase the availability of sugar, pulses and other essential commodities in the market. To boost the availability of sugar, the price of which is nearing Rs 50 a kg, Pawar announced a major relaxation of norms for import of raw sugar. Now sugar can be refined anywhere in the country and not only by the mill that had imported it.
The government has already permitted import of raw sugar at zero duty up to Dec 31, 2010. This facility has now been extended for import of refined sugar. Pawar claimed that sugar price had dropped by a Rs 3 a kg in the last couple of days.
He said 5.64 million tones of sugar have been contracted so for taking the total availability to 24.1 million tonnes — more than the annual requirement of 23 million tonnes.
To arrest the prices of wheat and rice, the government will sell 2-3 million tonnes of the staple items in the open market over the next two months.
As for pulses, whose prices have crossed the Rs 100-mark, state-owned trading firms have been asked to bolster imports.
To devise a strategy to crack down on hoarding, the prime minister has called a meeting of the chief ministers here on Jan 27. Pawar also said that state governments were not lifting the wheat and rice stocks made available to them by the centre.
Of the two million tonnes of wheat that had been allocated, only 159,000 tonnes had been lifted, while only 209,000 tonnes of the one million tonnes of rice that had been allocated had been lifted. Additionally, steps will be taken to check smuggling of sugarcane and sugar from Nepal.
It is learnt that Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni criticised Pawar during the meeting.
DH News Service
Housewives approach SC
A Delhi-based organisation, claiming to be representing a section of housewives, has approached the Supreme Court urging it to issue a direction to the Central government to rein in the spiralling prices of essential commodities in the country, reports DHNS from New Delhi.