Imports and non-tariff barriers to help check prices
THE government continues to be in war mode on food prices, using a combination of non-tariff barriers and imports to keep a lid on the situation. While consumers can look forward to cheap one-litre pouches of vegetable oil in ration shops, traders may be in for a tough time as their harvest-time grain purchases get stymied by the threat of stock controls. That may eventually reduce food available on grocery shelves. With Karnataka, Andhra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in election mode, the likelihood of governments in these states imposing stock limits on wheat to appease voters has increased. Delhi has already re-activated the 200-t stock limit on chana over the weekend. “We have given states freedom to impose stock controls. Now it is anybody’s guess what they will do. There is no move to impose a uniform stock limit nationally on wheat,’’ sources here said. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra, Karnataka, Delhi and Haryana had all imposed stock controls the last time prices spiralled a year ago. According to officials, there is no move yet to ban maize exports since there is no consumer demand for coarse grains. “If we put maize on PDS, consumers say they don’t want it. So maize exports are not on our radar at present,’’ they said.