No shortage of food items, hoarding will be made non bailable offence: Arun Jaitley

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The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has dissuaded the fears of food scarcity in the country and has strongly claimed that any such situation is due to problems in the supply side and central-state cooperation needed most to keep the situation under control.

“There has been a record production of onions and potatoes, so there is no shortage of these goods. This is not an issue of scarcity. It is a supply side issue, Earlier, when a panic situation was created and onion prices reached Rs. 80-100 per kg, the government would intervene, but this time, the government anticipated the situation and intervened,” said Jaitley addressing a meeting of State Finance Ministers in Delhi. Keeping the last year’s onion price hike, the central government has recently added onions and potatoes to the essential commodities act. It has also increased export price of Onions, so that the price within the country, remains under control.

“There are reports of below normal monsoon this year. Hoarders are taking advantage of the situation. When production of food items is higher than last year and still prices rise, then it means that intermediaries are keeping the stock somewhere,” he added. “Some states suggested a price stabilisation fund. In case if prices in certain commodities go up, there could be market intervention,” he said. He has also suggested changes to the Essential Commodities Act so as to make hoarding a non-bailable offence.

A private weather forecasting agency, Skymet has raised its forecast for drought conditions from 25% estimated in April to 60% now. These difficult conditions, apart from the Iraq strife and subsequent rise in petrol, diesel and natural gas are turning into multifolded crisis points for the new government.

The meeting was also attended by Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.

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