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Prices of pulses to stay high: Government

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) The prices of pulses will remain higher given their huge demand and limited supply, but headline inflation would ease to 5-6 percent by December, the government said Tuesday.

‘As far pulses are concerned, their prices are going to be problematic,’ Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar told reporters at a media briefing organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Chandrashekhar was speaking after a closed-door deliberation with secretaries of various ministries and industry captains on whether India can achieve a sustainable growth rate of 10 percent by 2014.

‘The problem with the pulses is owing to a high mismatch with their demand and supply,’ said Chandrasekhar.

India is one of the world’s largest consumer and importer of pulses. The domestic demand of around 15 million tonnes yearly outstrips production of around three million tonnes.

‘We have consumed almost all the pulses, available even abroad. We cannot buy it from even abroad,’ said Chandrasekhar.

Asked to give a time frame by which retail prices of foodgrains would soften, Chandrasekhar said ‘the government has already increased its minimum support price for rice and wheat for its increased procurement and ensuring stable supply.’

‘Accordingly, its prices should not fluctuate and be stable,’ he said, adding sugar prices have come down and that of edible oil has become ‘steady’.

India’s annual food inflation rose to 12.81 percent for the week ended July 3.

‘As far as vegetables are concerned, they are seasonal with their supply varying as per the season. Overall, their had been no great change in the consumer price index of food articles for the last three to four months,’ he said.

Asked about the high inflation rate, Chandrasekhar said: ‘With food prices stabilizing, the inflation rate should be under control at 5 to 6 percent by end of this year.’

A recent fuel price hike drove India’s annual inflation up to 10.55 percent in June, from the previous month’s 10.16 percent.

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