Don't Panic, No Shortages of Food Items: Finance Minister After Price Rise Meet

The NDA government, which has been confronted with the spectre of spiralling prices of food items soon after its advent to power at the Centre, today sought to allay fears of any shortages, and said there were enough stocks to deal with any situation.

"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," Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after a meeting with state food ministers.

The Centre, in fact, took credit for anticipating a spiral in food prices, and taking immediate action to control them. "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," Mr Jaitley said.  (Read highlights) | (Watch speech here)
Earlier in the day, the union Finance Minister had blamed hoarders for creating an artificial shortage in the supply of food items such as onions and potatoes. "Hoarders are taking advantage of the forecast of below normal monsoon. State governments should take stern action against hoarders to rein in prices. The Centre will give complete support,'' he told the conference.  (Monsoon Revives After Weakest Start in Five Years) 

Controlling prices has been accorded top priority by the Narendra Modi government. Prices of commodities such as potatoes, onion, rice, pulses and milk have been showing an upward curve since January this year, the government's failure to rein them in has exposed them to taunts from the opposition parties. The Congress, in fact, used the BJP's "Acche Din Aa Gaye Hain" (Good days are here) slogan to take a jibe at the government. (Will Limit Stockholding of Onions and Potatoes, Says Government)

The government has taken a series of steps to rein in prices. Earlier this week, it brought onions and potatoes within the ambit of Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and authorized the states to set stock-limits for these two food items. 

It also ordered the release of 50 lakh tonnes of rice for BPL and APL families for the remaining part of the fiscal. It also raised the export prices of the two commodities in order to ensure their availability for domestic consumers.

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