Concerned over food inflation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will review the situation tomorrow and discuss steps to keep prices of essential commodities, including pulses, in check. Retail prices of pulses are still ruling high at over Rs 170 per kg even as the government is making efforts to boost supply through its newly-created buffer stock and imports.
Even tomato prices have doubled to Rs 80 a kg due to the crop damage. Potato rates have also been on the rise. As per the WPI data released today, vegetable inflation rose sharply to 12.94 per cent, from 2.21 per cent a month earlier.
“The finance minister has called tomorrow a meeting with ministers and secretaries concerned to discuss prices of essential commodities like pulses and tomato,” sources said. Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are slated to attend the meeting.
The Cabinet secretary, the chief economic advisor and secretaries of the departments concerned, including finance, food and consumer affairs, would also be present. Pulse inflation has remained in double digits since January 2015 and stood at 35.56 per cent in May.
According to the sources, the meeting will take stock of the progress made in pulse imports, discuss creation of buffer stock and lifting of the stock by state governments for retail distribution at subsidised rates.
Also on the agenda are import and export duty on sugar, wheat and edible oils, the sources added. Many state governments have not yet placed their requirement of pulses (from the buffer stock) with the Centre for retail distribution of lentils at subsidised rate of Rs 120 a kg though the price rise has been a matter of concern. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have lifted pulses from the buffer stock. Even Mother Dairy’s Safal and Kendriya Bhandar in Delhi have also lifted pulses.
The government has procured 1.15 lakh tonnes pulses directly from farmers as of now for creating a buffer stock of 1.5 lakh tonnes this year. It is also importing pulses through state-owned trading agencies like MMTC. So far, 38,500 tonnes of lentils have been contracted for import.