Parliament panel pulls up Consumer Affairs Ministry

A parliamentary panel has pulled up the Consumer Affairs Ministry for its failure to maintain buffer stock of pulses as part of efforts to keep the prices in check.

Congress leader K V Thomas chairs the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament which has taken a dim view of the government initiatives in sale and distribution of imported pulses.

Interestingly, the report deals with the performance of the government when Thomas was the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution during the fag end of the UPA-II regime.

The PAC, then chaired by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, had submitted its report on the subject in April. The government had submitted its Action Taken Report on June 18, barely a fortnight after the Modi government came to power.

The responsibility of perusing the Action Taken Report and make further observations fell on Thomas, who was appointed as the Chairman of the PAC, a post by convention held by a member of the largest party in Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

“The Committee deprecate the approach of the Ministry in brushing aside the recommendation of the Committee for maintaining buffer stock of pulses as is maintained for wheat, sugar, rice etc,” the PAC said in its report tabled in Parliament this month.

It has asked the Ministry, now helmed by Ramvilas Paswan, to maintain buffer stock of pulses after careful assessment of its economic implication, in order to curb malpractices.

The PAC also recommended to the Ministry to keep a watch on prices and shortages of pulses and plan in advance for import, if necessary.

The Ministry had informed the Committee that it had discontinued the Price Support Scheme for import of pulses.

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