Inflation within tolerance band; govt taking steps to check price rise: Sitharaman

Government's Efforts Yield Results: Inflation Stays Within Tolerance Band
FM Nirmala Sitharaman
FM Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi | Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the inflation has come down within the tolerance band as a result of the steps taken by the government to check price rise, especially in perishable commodities.

Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman said Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) is working with the government on de-humidification of onions through Gamma Rays to give it a longer shelf life.

"The government is seized of the difficulties, which arise due to shortage of perishable goods, which are not grown in India. The committee sits and reviews periodically, and the efforts have shown on the ground that inflation is now within the tolerable band," she said.

India's retail inflation has declined from an average of 6.8 per cent in April-December 2022 to 5.5 per cent in the corresponding period of 2023. The retail inflation is now stable and within the notified tolerance band of 2 per cent to 6 per cent.

The minister said that in order to check the volatility in prices of onion, the government has progressively increased its buffer size from 1 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) in 2020-21 to 7 LMT in 2023-24. As of February 3, 2024, a total of 6.32 LMT of onion was procured, and 3.96 LMT of Grade-A onion was released through retail sales, e-Nam auction and bulk sales.

"Currently, steps are being taken so that the preservation of very highly perishable commodities, like onion, can be improved," she said, adding lots of steps have been taken by the government, particularly for meeting the shortage in supply of perishable goods.

Sitharaman said India has imported 8.79 lakh metric tonnes of Tur Dal and 15.14 lakh metric tonnes of Masoor Dal in calendar year 2023. Similarly, the country imported other dals and released them in the market.

India has also brought the branded 'Bharat Dal' through which Chana Dal is made available at Rs 60/kg for one kg pack and Rs 55/kg for 30 kg packs. 2.97 lakh metric tonnes of Chana have been sold already as of January 30, 2024. 'Bharat Dal', which is coming at a concessional price, is available in all retail markets.

"Since we don't grow enough pulses in the country and due to a shortfall in supply, prices of pulses normally keep fluctuating, for which, by analysing the crop estimates, we start tying up for imports," Sitharaman added.

Retail inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), in December 2023, stood at 5.69 per cent.

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