Govt may take more steps to check prices
The government is aiming to bring down inflation by more than a percentage point in the next few weeks by taking fresh measures to curb price rise. Minister of state for industry Ashwani Kumar said on Thursday that while the full impact of these measures would be reflected in six-eight weeks, the positive effect of the measures already taken has started showing. He said the steep rise in prices of many commodities have not only ceased, but prices of some items have also started showing a downward trend. “The government’s strategy is to attack each factor that results in inflation,” Mr Kumar said at a press conference. The minister pointed out that despite rising inflation, for the first time food prices in India are ruling lower than anywhere else in the world. As per government estimates, in the last two months there has been a substantial decline in prices of food grains from peak levels. For instance, price of rice has come down by 1.64% during the two-month period, while price of wheat has witnessed a decline of 9.10%. Prices of pulses and edible oils have also come down by 7.69% and 18.93%, respectively. The government believes there will be further reduction in prices as the monsoon this year is expected to be favourable and measures to curb inflation would continue. The government is also in talks with cement manufacturers to see how cement prices can be brought down. It expects further reduction in prices of cement as representatives from the manufacturers association have responded positively to suggestions and proposals made by the government to bring down prices, Mr Kumar said. However, prices of steel and iron remain high. The government is willing to consider all possible measures and take more administrative steps to contain prices, the minister said. “We need to ensure growth, employment and sustainability,” he added. He urged the industry to shun short-term profits in favour of longerterm strategies.