The government on Thursday announced plans to import 1.5 million tonnes of pulses in an attempt to tame inflation.
Briefing newsmen after a three-hour Cabinet meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Das Munshi said, "The government will be importing 0.75 million tonnes of urad, tur, masur, moong and gram along with 0.75 metric tonnes of yellow peas." The imports will be undertaken over the next eight months.
The decision to import pulses, canalized through government agencies Nafed, STC and MMTC, comes against the backdrop of inflation, which is stubbornly hovering over 6 per cent for several weeks. To ensure that the state-owned agencies are not hit by international price fluctuations, the government has decided to a provide subsidy in case of loss.
Das Munshi said prices of essential commodities, particularly pulses, were informally discussed in the Cabinet meeting. He said procurement of wheat from Punjab and Haryana had been high ever since the current marketing season began. "In Punjab and Haryana, 85 per cent of the procurement has been through Food Corporation of India (FCI) and we are hopeful that the target procurement for the current marketing season will be met," he said.
Citing recent procurement figures, Minister of State for Food and Public Distribution Akhilesh Prasad Singh said latest figures for Haryana showed that Government agencies had been able to procure up to 94 per cent of the crop coming into the market. In Punjab, the figure is around 85 per cent. Total procurement till April 11, 2007, in Haryana is 4,26,538 million tonnes. In Punjab, the total procurement is 2,34,621 million tonnes. "This dispels the notion that private agents are procuring the lion's share of the crop coming into the market," Singh added.