Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath on Friday said the government would not hesitate to act against hoarders and profiteers, even as he admitted supply side management was a challenge to controlling prices of essential commodities.
"We will not hesitate to take the strictest measures, including using legal provisions against hoarding and profiteering whether in food, cement or steel," Nath, who is on a visit in Singapore, told reporters on Friday.
On March 31, the union government asked states to initiate steps under provisions of the Essential Commodities Act to check against hoarding.
Nath, however, said that though there was the provision of 18G of the Industrial Act, "we don't propose to use it." Section 18G empowers the Centre to control supply, distribution, price etc of certain articles.
He said the biggest task was to provide food to the poor. "Our biggest challenge with India is the supply side..."
The government has been grappling with rising prices of food, metal and other manufactured items which have pushed up inflation to a 39-month high of 7 per cent.
The Cabinet Committee on Prices had decided to abolish import duty on crude edible oil, cut duty on refined oils and ban export of non-basmati rice to check prices. The government also convinced steel makers to cut prices of key products.
Finance Secretary Subbarao had told PTI that the government is open to taking more steps to tame inflation to bring it within tolerable limit (below five per cent).
He also said global slowdown is expected to bring commodity prices down, as historically the US recession has led to fall in commodity rates.