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Seasonal supply side problems adding to inflation, govt monitoring continuously: Sitharaman

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KALABURAGI (K’TAKA), April 26 (PTI): Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said seasonal supply side problems add to inflation and that they are being monitored continuously with efforts being made to bring down prices of essential commodities.

Highlighting that efforts have also been made to bring down fuel and natural gas prices, she said these are imports coming into the country and the prices are high in the global market, due to the impact of Covid and Russia-Ukraine war.

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“On prices, since November 2021, when the Prime Minister himself has instructed us to reduce the excise duty on fuel, as a result before Deepavali one announcement was made. Then sometime in June 2022, again we reduced the excise duty further. As a result, price of fuel came down somewhat,” Sitharaman said during a press conference here.

“But when we are speaking about fuel or natural gas, we need to understand one thing: these are products which are imported, and particularly after Covid and particularly even more after the war between Russia and Ukraine, the prices have been going up and in spite of that, we are importing. Central government’s bit (domain), which is the tax excise, has been brought down. Karnataka also reduced the price in November 2021.”

The Union minister was responding to a question on price rise and measures being taken by the government.

Noting that the government closely monitors the supply side issues of essential commodities, whether it is edible oil or vegetables, Sitharaman said: “We have cut down the customs duty so that the imported edible oil can come, so that the edible oil prices can be brought down.”

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There are a group of ministers (GoM) who sit and look at essential commodities and prices, and therefore continuously monitor the release of stocks. “When there was an increase in the market price of rice, we released rice from the buffer stock.”

“Efforts are continually being made by the Central government to make sure the prices are brought down. That is why the CPI (Consumer Price Index ) has come down from 6 to 5.8 and 5.7 and so on (all in per cent). So seasonal supply side problems add to inflation which we have to continuously monitor and continuously make efforts to bring down the price,” she added.

Sitharaman hit out at Congress and its leader Siddaramaiah for the latter’s attack on BJP.

Siddaramaiah had targeted BJP and Union home minister Amit Shah for his statement claiming that the May 10 Assembly election is about entrusting the future of Karnataka into the hands of Narendra Modi, and had asked whether the ruling party was so bankrupt that there are no Kannadigas in it to look after the future of the state.

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Sitharamaian responding to it said: “What’s wrong in the state being entrusted into the hands of India’s Prime Minister? To that PM who is taking the whole country together and is concentrating even on the development of districts… If such a PM’s name is being taken, why are they (Congress leaders) getting irritated? They might have forgotten….they are the ones who used to say Sonia Gandhi is everything for Bharat. The ‘ghulams’ (slaves) of one family are saying this?”

Stating that Modi has got the blessings of the people of the entire country and he is sitting in Parliament as the leader of elected MPs from across India, she said: “If we (BJP) take that PM’s name, why are they (Congress) feeling disturbed, and are asking whether there are no leaders in Karnataka.”

The finance minister also reminded everyone as to how Congress “shamelessly” insulted and sacked its former chief minister Veerendra Patil, and asked: “Was he not a Kannadiga? Was Congress not aware that he too was a Kannadiga before committing the sin of sacking him? Today, they are questioning us about Kannadigas. Congress should not be speaking such things.”

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