Concerned over the fluctuating fortunes of the ongoing price escalation, essential commodities in particular, the Centre has mounted a close countrywide watch over the situation.
A special cell has been set up in the Cabinet Secretariat to monitor the situation on a daily basis following instructions from the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Comprising senior representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture, Food, Consumer Affairs and Finance, the special Cabinet Secretariat cell is headed by a very senior officer of the Additional Secretary rank.
It has just begun its daily monitoring meetings with regular interactions with the State Governments.
Cabinet Secretary BK Chaturvedi is expected to keep the PM informed on the day-today deliberations of the special cell.
In an exclusive chat with the HT, Chaturvedi said that the Government was confident of bringing the price escalation under control within a month or so.
"We have taken all the necessary measures to streamline the distribution network across the country besides reaching out to regions suffering from deficit supply lines," he asserted saying that the reserve commodity stocks were enough to meet any eventuality.
Attributing the ongoing price rise in some commodities to seasonal circumstances, Chaturvedi expressed confidence that with the arrival of additional food disowns from the Rabi crops; the situation will ease considerably leading to a situation of plenty.
He made a pointed reference to the recent rainfall in North-India that was bound to provide a boost to the Rabi crops--wheat in particular.
A senior Agriculture Ministry official said the recent rains were set to enhance wheat crop produce leading to a bumper reserve of around 13 lakh tonnes as against the 9-10 lakh tonne norm.
However, minor loss in mustard crops could be met with ample oil seed reserves apart from a liberal import regime, he explained.
Similarly, ground-nut production along with Urad was also expected to ease the supply situation with March-April produce reaching the markets in time Attributing the insufficient supplies of pulses to global fall in production of such commodities, the official claimed that the prevailing satisfactory situation on the wheat-rice reserve front was possible owing to timely imports of these commodities.
On his part, the Cabinet Secretary revealed (without naming the specifics) that several fiscal measures could be announced in the coming budget to rein in inflation on a long-term basis.
"Coupled with administrative measures such as hiking the minimum export price (MEP) of onions from $210 to $ 300 were all geared to tackle the situation," he asserted.
As regards the recent cut in petroleum prices, the move is expected to cut into the transportation costs of essential commodities especially in the hilly and far-flung rural areas leading to dip in their prices.