New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday assured that the government will formulate policies and take quick measures aimed at checking the rising food prices during a Cabinet meet over the issue.
Addressing the Cabinet committee on prices (CCP) at his residence, Prime Minister said, “All steps will be taken by the government to curb price rise.”
During the meeting, the Prime Minister was briefed by the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar over the food situation and the steps taken by the government to prevent black marketing and hoarding.
Several Cabinet ministers and allies, who attended the CCP meet, expressed grave concerns over the rising prices of essential food commodities and the government’s inability to control it.
During the meeting, a decision to release more funds for ensuring the availability of wheat and pulses was also taken by the government.
Another key decision, believed to have been taken by the ministers, was to ensure the availability of sugar and other essential commodities.
The meeting assumes significance in view of rocketing inflation, which has soared to a decade`s high of 20% in the first week of December.
The Prime Minister is also due to review the financial health of oil PSUs at a meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora today evening.
Petrol prices may go up by Rs 3 a litre if Prime Minister accepts the Petroleum Ministry`s proposal to free pricing of petrol while gradually increasing the diesel rates.
The government has till now not allowed state-run Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum to raise rates of petrol, diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene despite the cost of raw material (crude oil) jumping to USD 82 per barrel.
The government has also been battling to control the ever increasing prices of food items. Retail sugar price has more than doubled from January 2009 and is currently inching closer to Rs50 a kg. Besides, prices of commodities like pulses, potato, onion and vegetables have been rising due to widespread impact of drought and floods in different parts of the country.
Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had said sugar production has been low and government has consequently decided to import about 40 lakh tons of raw sugar.
The minister also said 20 lakh tons have already arrived in the country and are being processed.
Reports suggest that Government may extend the deadline for import of duty-free white sugar beyond March 31st to augment domestic supply and curb the rising price.
The ruling-Congress party has been advocating strong measures to check rising prices and provide relief to common man and party chief Sonia Gandhi had said the issue of price rise is of the "highest concern to us".