Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the Centre had taken all possible steps to counter inflation and asked Opposition parties to refrain from indulging in a blame game since the problem could only be solved through a collective effort.
“It is for the states to take action against hoarders and revamp the public distribution system (PDS) to check prices,” Mukherjee said in reply to a motion moved in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday by leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley.
After the hour-long reply, which was followed by Jaitley’s rejoinder expressing dissatisfaction with it, the House unanimously adopted a resolution asking the government to take steps to control inflation.
The finance minister admitted that shortage of supply of food items like pulses and edible oil, along with hardening of international prices, had compounded the situation, yet the government’s efforts had brought down food inflation from 21 per cent last December to 9.55 per cent at present.
Mukherjee said he did not believe in passing the buck to the states, but most areas in controlling prices such as the PDS and Essential Commodities Act lay with them.
He rejected the Opposition charge that the Centre was insensitive to the plight of the poor.
“No insensitive government takes welfare steps like NREGA and providing right to education till 14 years, initiated by the UPA regime.”
He cautioned against reckless spending by the government, saying he did not want a repeat of the humiliation
India faced in 1991 when it had to pledge gold for a few million dollars.
In his response to Mukherjee, Jaitley said the minister failed to assure the nation as to how he intended to tackle inflation. “He has rationalised the causes of inflation and expects the nation to be prepared for inflation in future,” Jaitley said.
No interference in GST
Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday sought to allay the fears of state governments that the Centre would usurp their powers through a veto provision in the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“I have no intention of becoming the super finance minister to interfere with the state GST,” he said in both houses of Parliament. “They (states) will have their rights and I shall have my rights.”