New Delhi: Union food minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday called hoarding an anti-national activity and asked state governments to rise above politics to control prices by effectively enforcing the Essential Commodities Act. The current price rise is a temporary phenomenon created by hoarders, he said. In a federal system, it is the responsibility of both the Centre and states to check inflation and that they shouldn’t look to score political points on the issue, he added.
Paswan also asked state governments to enforce the Act effectively against hoarders and black marketers to boost supply and check prices. “We should come up with a concrete plan against hoarders who are doing a anti-national activity against the interest of consumers,” he said at a conference of state food and consumer affairs ministers on food inflation. The Centre has taken steps such as raising the minimum export price of onion and potato to check price rise, but the long-term solution lies in developing a nationalized market, the food minister said.
A nationalized market will allow farmers to sell their produces freely. At present, farmers have to pay different fees and taxes to sell their produce in the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) markets. Paswan added that there is a need to set up a storage facility for onions and potatoes during the lean season. Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh asked state governments to focus on strengthening market integration, information and infrastructure.