Government Aims To Make Food Cheaper For The Common Public: MoS Finance Bhagwat Karad

The central government is trying to control inflation by keeping a close watch on the prices of pulses, edible oil, and fuel, among others, according to Minister of State for Finance Bhagwat Karad.

Speaking to BQ Prime on price rise and efforts taken to curtail inflation, the minister said the government is responding by making it cheaper for the public.

“I want to tell you that prices of diesel and petrol have been reduced two times, and at the same time, prices of gas for people below the poverty line have also been reduced to under Rs 200,” the minister said. “At the same time, import duties on cement and steel have been reduced and export restrictions have been put in place.”

In the recently concluded monsoon session, the minister, in a written reply in parliament, said several supply-side measures were taken by the government to address inflation. These include the cut in excise duty on petrol by Rs 8 per litre and on diesel by Rs 6 per litre in May.

He also cited other measures, such as the reduction in import duties and cess on pulses, the rationalisation of tariffs and the imposition of stock limits on edible oils and oil seeds, the maintenance of buffer stocks for onions and pulses, the inclusion of soya meal as an essential commodity, and the imposition of a stock limit on soya meal up to June 30, 2022.

The government, in a bid to make food commodities cheaper for the public, had also reduced the import duty on edible palm oil, the minister said, apart from entering into an agreement with other countries like Myanmar and Malawi for the import of pulses.

As per the agreement, India will import 2,50,000 metric tonnes of urad and 1,00,000 MT of tur from Myanmar annually, over the next five financial years from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

Similarly, India has agreed to import an annual quota of 50,000 MT of tur from Malawi and an annual quota of 2,00,000 MT of tur from Mozambique.

“Compared to other countries, according to me, India is in a much more comfortable position in spite of Coivd-19 and the conditions in Ukraine,” the minister said. Countries like China and the U.S. are experiencing inflation of 8%, whereas India’s inflation is less than 7%, he said.

The country’s retail inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, eased to a five-month low of 6.71% in July from 7.01% seen in June.

The government, along with the Reserve Bank of India, is working to bring inflation to a comfortable level below 6 %, the minister said.

In an interview with ET Now on Tuesday, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said that inflation has peaked and is expected to moderate going forward, with inflation expectations also getting well anchored.

“There is absolutely no room for any complacency,” Das told ET Now, “Consumer inflation is still at 6.7%, and we need to bring it down, as I have said in my minutes, first below 6% and then move closer to, you know, the target rate of 4%.”

The RBI’s target is to bring inflation to 4% in a two-year period, Das said in the interview.

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