Pranab urges composite approach on price rise

New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) As the opposition’s attempted to corner the government in the Rajya Sabha on the price rise, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee turned the tables on them Thursday by calling for a composite approach to deal with the issue.

Replying to the day-long debate on the price rise, Mukherjee blamed the situation on the supply side hitches. A dissatisfied opposition, however, said that the finance minister’s reply lacked any assurance for bringing down the prices.

As the Lok Sabha had done Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha adopted a resolution seeking the government’s action to reign in the spiralling prices.

‘The basic problem is from the supply side’ Mukherjee said, adding: ‘Only states can implement the Public Distribution System (PDS).’

Stating that the shortage of sugar, edible oil and pulses was one of the major hitches, he emphasised on strengthening the PDS to ensure the protection of those living below the poverty line (BPL).

‘We could have provided the BPL relief if our public distribution system was in place and working, but unfortunately it is not, so one of the decisions taken in the meeting of the chief ministers was to revamp the PDS,’ Mukherjee said, stressing that only the states can ensure effective management of the PDS.

‘Central control on PDS is not possible. States will have to decentralise it to the panchayat level,’ the finance minister said.

He also ruled out universalisation of the PDS.

‘If we can’t implement the system, why should we venture for the universalisation?’ Mukherjee asked.

Defending the hike in petroleum prices, Mukherjee said it was the need of the hour as the pressure on the oil companies was escalating.

Refering to inflation, which has come down to 9.53 percent this week from 9.67 percent last week, Mukherjee said that the fiscal policies of government were successful.

Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley, however, said that the minister’s reply was not assuring.

‘The worries still remain. The scholarly speech has no clue, hint or assurance on when the sitation will be controlled,’ Jaitley said.

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