M A I N   N E W S

UPA all out to rein in price rise: PM
Rules out a rollback in rates of petrol, diesel
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5
Ruling out a rollback of the recent hike in petrol and diesel prices, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today told the Parliament that the UPA was alive to the problem of food inflation and had taken all possible measures to address the issue.The Prime Minister said the government would take more effective steps to curb inflation.

Minorities want quota within quota 
With Parliament ready to vote on the Women’s Reservation Bill, minority and Dalit groups on Friday stepped up their demand for including the provision of quota for backward women and threatened to launch protests if the issue was not addressed.

 “I assure the House that if any practical methods can further bring relief, we will be sensitive to the concerns of ‘aam aadmi’,” the PM said while replying to the motion of thanks on the presidential address.

His 75-minute speech was devoted largely to the urgency of growth to spur socio-economic development and the anxiety over food price rise — the issue that stalled the budget session until yesterday.

On the economic front, the PM was confident of 7.5 per cent growth rate this fiscal, and a return to 9 per cent in two years. He also predicted double digit growth, provided the country reduced the scope of corruption through better processes of governance. “This is the vision we are working to realise,” was the PM’s line.

On food front, he blamed the crisis on factors beyond government control -- the rising international commodity prices and a severe drought back home (worst since 1972), but ruled out panic, pointing to comfortable levels of food stock with the Centre. His message was clear — the worst is over.

“Rabi prospects are very encouraging. Post-monsoon rains have been good. This augurs well for our ability to stabilise food prices at a reasonable level,” PM assured the members, listing measures taken to contain inflation, including permission to import raw and white sugar at zero duty and empowering states to punish hoarders.

That, however, didn’t keep the PM from admitting that the sugar economy needed to be stablilised. “We’ll find ways to see that prices of sugar can be stabilised at a reasonable level unmindful of the cyclical nature of the production of sugar,” he said, as the House kept witnessing interruptions on the issue of recent petrol and diesel hike.

But, Manmohan Singh was determined to justify UPA’s strategy on inflation, leaving the Opposition with little to reason. When it was CPM’s turn to move four amendments, few opposition MPs were seated in Lok Sabha. Even BJP’s Murali Manohar Joshi had left after the PM rebuffed as a “galatfehmi (misunderstanding) his contention that the government was seeking US help for India’s agricultural problems.



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