Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today chaired a
Committee on Prices to discuss measures to check the rising prices
like sugar and foodgrains and asked states to take effective steps
to curb hoarding to reduce inflation.
Briefing mediapersons about the meeting
held at the Prime Minister's residence this morning, Union
Minister Sharad Pawar said Dr Singh has decided to call a meeting of
Chief Ministers on January 27 to discuss the issue of inflation.
Pawar said the Centre wanted state
governments to take action against hoarders, who were creating
artificial scarcity of essential commodities in the country leading
to price rise.
He said the off take of wheat and rice
allotted to states was not satisfactory and about two to three
million tonnes of wheat was still lying with the Centre.
The Minister asked states to improve
their distribution network to ensure that essential commodities
reach to consumers.
Facing flak over the rising price of
sugar which has touched an all time high of retail price of Rs 50
per kg, Pawar said though the Centre had removed all tax on sugar
import, many states had still imposed VAT on it.
Also about nine lakh tonnes of imported
sugar was still lying on various ports of the country as the
government has put restriction on the processing of imported sugar.
He assured that within seven to 10 days'
time the price of sugar would be brought under control in the open
market. The CCP discussed increasing availability of sugar and other
commodities to contain food inflation, which has soared to a
decade's high of 20 per cent in the first week of December. The
retail price of sugar has reached Rs 50 per kg while 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.
Earlier, the CCP was about to meet
yesterday but it was postponed as Union Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee could not be present as he was tied up in meetings with
visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The Congress 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 was of the
''highest concern to us''. It has also suggested direct
interventions to check price rise.