M A I N   N E W S

Govt assures Left on food item prices
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 15
The UPA today assured the Left leaders at the Coordination Committee meet that it would not hesitate to import to check the steep increase in the prices of food items and essential commodities.

“The government has assured us that it would not hesitate to import to check the prices of essential commodities,” CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury told reporters.

Much of the discussion at the two-hour meeting focused on the price rise of food items and essential commodities and the cascading effect of the petrol and diesel price hike on them.

The four Left parties had submitted a nine-page appraisal note on the two-year performance of the UPA government to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The government is expected to give a point by point reply to the issues raised in the note in the next meet scheduled for the first week of July.

The note said, “The UPA government has failed to check the continuous rise in prices of food items and other essential commodities. It is surprising that while there is all-round price rise, the government is claiming that the rate of inflation is under control.”

The wholesale price index for all commodities had risen steadily through the first six months of this year, particularly for cereals, pulses, sugar, milk and edible oils, the note said.

It said, “While the common people are already being hit hard by the price rise, the government has recently brought about another steep hike in petroleum prices citing the increase in the international oil prices, which is bound to worsen the inflationary situation.”

The meet also discussed cut in PDS outlay for beneficiaries and failure of the Congress-led coalition to implement several of the “aam admi” programmes agreed in the NCMP.

The meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, was attended, among others, by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat and CPI General Secretary A.B. Bardhan.

In a brief statement, Minister of State in PMO Prithviraj Chouhan told reporters that the present state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir and the ongoing dialogue initiated by the government, the communal situation in the country, the situation in the North-East, price rise and steps being taken by the government to contain it were discussed.



Left leaders take UPA to task
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 15
The UPA-Left Coordination Committee met this evening to discuss the contentious issue of hike in petrol and diesel prices, steep rise in the prices of essential commodities, cut in PDS outlay for beneficiaries and failure of the Congress led coalition to implement several of the ‘aam admi’ programmes agreed in the NCMP.

The meeting, sources indicated did not discuss several contentious economic reforms policy of the Manmohan Singh government, as Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was not in the country.

At the meeting, leaders of the four Left parties met Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and senior cabinet ministers to air their grievances about the policies of the government.

Left party sources said the government would come out with a detailed reaction to the nine-page note submitted to the Prime Minister by the Communists, who support the government from outside, which criticises the policy decisions of the Centre and suggests alternative measures.

The note focused on price rise, macro-economic policy, food security, privatization, financial sector liberalization, role of Planning Commission, power sector privatisation among others.

The sources indicated that the meet discussed agriculture related issues including price rise in essential commodities, wheat import, agricultural credit and rural indebtedness.

The Left, which held a nation-wide protest this week against the recent fuel price hike, repeated their suggestion to cut excise and customs duty on crude oil imports.

The government last week increased the prices of petrol by Rs 4 per litre and of diesel by Rs 2 per litre to cut the losses of state-run oil marketing companies that have been hit by soaring global crude prices.

The Left maintains that the price hike could have been avoided if the government had implemented the alternatives suggested by them.

Besides, sources said, Left leaders also reiterated their criticism on Manmohan Singh’s foreign policy, which they believe tilts towards the US. The Left accused the UPA government of having lost political direction and deviated from the CMP on several key issues like divestment in profit-making PSUs, privatisation of airports, failure to check inflation, government’s role in the agricultural sector, including rural credit, foreign policy and FDI.



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