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Cabinet Secretary reviews the prices of essential commodities



Cabinet Secretary reviews the prices of essential commodities 
A high level committee meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary reviewed the prices of essential commodities. It was observed that prices of most of the essential commodities are under control and even pulses and onions have been showing a declining trend. With coming of fresh Kharif crops, the prices are likely to further moderate. Agencies like FCI, NAFED and SFAC have been doing procurement operations of urad and tur dals and the agencies were advised to further step up procurement operations to build the buffer stock. 


To further supplement and augment the buffer stock, it was also decided to start import of pulses and to float tenders for 5,000 MT of tur dal and another 5,000 MT of urad dal. It was also decided to recommend further extension of zero import duty on chick peas and lentils upto 30.9.2016, coterminous with other pulses for which zero import duty has already been extended upto 30.9.2016. All these measures would enable further building of adequate buffer stock of pulses and also increase the availability of pulses in the domestic market. 
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Measures taken to facilitate payment of sugarcane price dues 

The cane dues of Rs. 17301 crores were outstanding against the sugar mills as on 15.07.2015. Since then, Rs. 10,620 crores have been paid to the sugarcane producers up to 15.11.2015.The payment of cane dues is an ongoing process and the dues position changes continuously on account of fresh supplies received and payment made for previous supplies. As such, it is not possible to indicate time line by which the full amount would be paid. This information was given by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.  

He said that funds amounting to Rs. 4151 crores were disbursed under Soft Loan Scheme which were credited directly into farmer’s account. It helped in reducing the cane price arrears. With a view to facilitate clearance of cane price arrears of sugarcane farmers, the Central Government has taken several other initiatives also. These measures include:-

Ø  Incentive for exporting raw sugar in sugar seasons 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Ø  Fixing remunerative prices for supplies of ethanol to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) for   blending with petrol to improve liquidity of mills; waiver of excise duty on ethanol supplies to OMCs during 2015-16 and scaling up of blending targets from 5% to 10%.

Ø  Enhanced import duty to 40% to discourage imports.

Ø  The “Duty Free Import Authorization” scheme (DFIA), for sugar withdrawn.

Ø  The period for discharging Export Obligations under the Advanced Authorization Scheme for sugar reduced to 6 months to prevent leakage into the domestic economy.

Ø  Notified a scheme on 2.12.2015 to extend production subsidy @ Rs. 4.50 per quintal to sugar mills to offset the cost of cane and facilitate timely payment of cane price dues of farmers.

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Steps taken to improve the availability and to contain prices of essential food items: 
    
 General Measures:

Ø  National Consultation Meeting held with States/UTs in-charge of Consumer Affairs and Food held on 7th July, 2015, at New Delhi resolved to take steps to keep prices of essential commodities, especially pulses and onions under control.

Ø  Advisories issued to State Governments to take strict action against hoarding & black marketing and effectively enforce the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980.

Ø  Regular review meeting on price and availability situation is being held at the highest level to monitor the price situation and recommend appropriate interventions.

Ø  Measures taken to improve availability by incentivizing production through higher Minimum Export Price (MSP).

Ø  A new Plan Scheme titled Price Stabalization Fund (PSF) is being implemented to regulate price volatility of agricultural commodities.


Specific Measures:

Onion

Ø  Export of onion is restricted through Minimum Export Price (MEP) and presently the MEP is USD 700 MT w.e.f. 24.8.2015. Import duty of onion is allowed at zero duty.

Ø  Imported 2000 MT of onion from Egypt and China through MMTC. As no demand from states were received, the onion is being disposed through tenders in the open market.

Ø  SFAC and NAFED were provided funding support during this year through PSF Scheme of Department of Agriculture, Co-operation & Farmers Welfare for creating stock during harvest season. Retail sale of onion was undertaken from the stock held by SFAC and NAFED during the lean season to improve availability and moderate the prices.

Ø  The stock limits in respect of onion has been extended by one more year i.e. up to 2nd July 2016 under the Essential Commodities Act.

Pulses

Ø  Authorized States/Union Territories to impose stock limit on pulses and the same has been extended up to 30.9.2016.

Ø  Advisories to States/Union Territories issued to take action against hoarding & black marketing and effectively enforce the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 & the Prevention of Black-marketing Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980.

Ø  As per the information provided by State Governments, 14134 raids have been conducted in 14 States resulting in seizure of 130606 tonnes of pulses (as on 03.12.2015) to arrest the rising prices of pulses.

Ø  Ban on export of pulses imposed with effect from June 22, 2006, except for Kabuli Chana and organic pulses & Lentils up to a maximum of 10000 tonnes a year.

Ø  Extension of zero import duty on all pulses till 30.09.2016 except for Chickpeas and Lentils which will be reviewed during December, 2015.

Ø  Import of 5000 tonnes of Tur was undertaken by the Government through Price Stabilization Fund Scheme of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare. It was allocated to States based on requests received from State Governments.

Ø  To incentivize production, higher Minimum Support Price (MSP) has been announced for both Kharif and Rabi pulses for 2015-16. Accordingly, for Kharif season, MSP (including bonus) has been increased by Rs 275 from Rs 4350 to Rs 4625 per quintal for both Arhar and Urad, and by Rs 200 from Rs 4650 to Rs 4850 per quintal for Moong respectively. For Rabi season, the increase (including bonus) has been by Rs 325 from Rs 3175 to Rs 3500 per quintal for Gram and from Rs 3075 to Rs 3400 per quintal for Masoor respectively.

This information was given by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.
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Steps taken for speedy disposal of pending consumer cases 
The steps being taken for speedy disposal of consumer cases, pending before the Consumer Fora are as under:-

• State Governments have been requested from time to time to take action well in advance for filling up of vacancies of President and Member and to maintain a panel of candidates for filling up of future vacancies also to avoid delay in appointments so that no Consumer Fora remains non-functional due to vacancies.

• Circuit Benches from National Commission have been frequently visiting States.

• Some State Commissions have constituted Additional Benches mainly to dispose of backlog of pending cases.

• The National Commission and some of the State Commissions as well as District Fora are adopting the process of holding Lok Adalats for speedy disposal of the cases.

• Financial assistance is provided by the Central Government to the States/UTs for strengthening of infrastructure of Consumer Fora including computerization and networking to facilitate quick disposal of cases.

This information was given by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today. 
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