Top bureaucrats review prices situation

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Top bureaucrats, headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, today reviewed the current price situation and preparedness to deal with the impact of delayed monsoon on inflation.

"The Cabinet Secretary took a meeting of Committee of Secretaries to review prices of essential commodities," an official statement said.

The meeting, which comes in the backdrop of retail inflation accelerating to a three-month high of 8.59 per cent in April mainly due to higher prices of vegetables, fruits and milk, was attended by Secretaries

from key economic ministries like Commerce and Industry, Agriculture, Finance.

Fighting inflation is on the top of the agenda of the new government. In its election manifesto, the BJP had said that the immediate task of its government would be to rein in price rise.

The steps listed in the manifesto to contain inflation include a price stabilisation fund, setting up of special courts to deal with hoarding and black marketing, unbundling of the Food Corporation of India and establishment of national agriculture market.

Although south-west monsoon has hit Kerala coast after a delay of four days, it is expected to remain "sluggish" and may proceed to central India only after June 25.

During the month, rainfall activity would largely remain confined to west coast, northeast India and the southern peninsula, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, has said.

About 60 per cent of agriculture production is dependent on monsoon and the delay in monsoon arrival is likely to adversely impact prices of essential commodities.

In its fight against stubborn inflation, the Reserve Bank of India in its bi-monthly monetary policy review earlier this month had kept the key interest rate unchanged at 8 per cent.

The inflation, measured on Wholesale Price Index (WPI), was 5.2 per cent in April.

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