No teeth to check food prices: Paswan

No teeth to check food prices: Paswan
Highlights

With the price of one after another food item hitting the roof, the Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday said his department has no \"concrete power\" to check food inflation. \"Consumer Affairs Department does not have any concrete power to check food inflation,\" Paswan told reporters here.

Ram Vilas PaswanHe also wants control over `500 cr Price Stabilisation Fund, which is now under Agriculture Ministry

New Delhi : With the price of one after another food item hitting the roof, the Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday said his department has no "concrete power" to check food inflation. "Consumer Affairs Department does not have any concrete power to check food inflation," Paswan told reporters here.

Though he did not elaborate, the top sources said the Consumer Affairs Department has already sought more powers to help it rein in the prices as it is the one which is held responsible for rise in prices of any food item including in recent cases of spike in rates of pulses. Besides pulses, prices of onion, tomato and peas have risen sharply in recent months, hurting the household budgets of the people.

The Department monitors the prices of 22 essential food items and it can ask states to impose stockholding limits and issue directions to carry out dehoarding operations. The Agriculture Ministry is responsible for production and manages price stabilisation fund, while the gap between supply and demand is looked into by the Commerce Ministry, while the tax related issues are dealt with by the Finance Ministry.

The Niti Aayog also plays a role in terms of planning. Sources said. Paswan would soon hold an informal meeting with secretaries of food, consumer affairs and agriculture departments, along with their counterparts in the Finance and Commerce ministries.

The Consumer Affairs Department is looking for more powers in terms of assessing the likely production shortage and to take steps to bridge the demand-supply gap. It also wants to control the Rs 500-crore Price Stabilisation Fund, which is currently under jurisdiction of Agriculture Ministry.

Paswan had written to the Finance Ministry to create this fund in the Budget so that market intervention can be made to give relief to consumers from rising prices, sources added. In about one month, prices of pulses had touched Rs 210 kg and continuously ruling above Rs 150 per kg for some time. The price of tomato has also nearly doubled in the past one month and had touched Rs 60 per kg a few days back.

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