Congress to Corner Govt on Runaway Wheat Flour Prices, Mounting National Debt

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The Opposition expects the government to announce measures to check the runaway inflation in the Union Budget

NEW DELHI — With the prices of wheat flour touching a 10-year high and other essential commodities also heading north, the Opposition expects the government to announce measures to check the runaway inflation in the Union Budget and also concessions for MSMEs to create employment in the country.

It will also corner the government on the mounting national debt, which has risen by 250 per cent since 2014, when the Manmohan Singh dispensation was voted out. The Congress says that the debt per Indian has increased from Rs 43,124 to Rs 1,09,373 over the last nine years, and has become 2.53 times more than what it was in 2014.

Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh alleged that the total outstanding debt of the Government of India, which was Rs 55.87 lakh crore as on March 31, 2014, would be estimated to go up to Rs 155.31 lakh crore by March 31, 2023.

“By the end of the financial year 2023, each Indian will owe Rs 1,09,373, a loan they have never taken. From 1947 till March 31, 2014, the debt per Indian was Rs 43,124. But in the last nine years, the debt per Indian has become 2.53 times what it was in 2014. In absolute terms, debt per Indian increased by Rs 66,249 in the last nine years,” he said.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had appealed to the people to step out of their homes and join the struggle against inflation, unemployment and the hatred spread by the BJP and the RSS.

He said: “Rahul Gandhi had started the Bharat Jodo Yatra on September 7 from Kanyakumari and is now nearing his final destination. I appeal to everyone to step out from their homes and stand against inflation, unemployment and hatred spread by the BJP and RSS as the country is ours.”

Though the wholesale price index-based (WPI) inflation for December 2022 fell to almost a two-year low of 4.95 per cent, owing to sliding food and crude as well as petroleum prices, WPI-based inflation was 5.85 per cent in November 2022.

Experts said this would result in a fall in consumer price index inflation in Q4FY23.

“Fall in prices of food articles, mineral oils, crude petroleum and natural gas, food products, textiles and chemicals & chemical products contributed to a slide in wholesale price index-based inflation,” a statement issued by the Union Commerce Ministry said.

The WPI inflation slipped below the 5 per cent mark for the first time since February 2021, when it was at 4.83 per cent.

The prices of wheat and wheat flour are at an almost 10-year high. The Opposition says this is because of uneven GST and a faulty procurement policy. To check the rising prices of wheat and atta, the government has approved a proposal for the sale of 30 lakh metric tonnes of wheat under the open market sale scheme.

It was decided that within the next two months, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will offload 30 LMT wheat from the Central pool stock into the market through various routes under the open market sale scheme (domestic).

Sale of wheat would be facilitated through traders, state governments, and cooperatives and federations as well as PSUs to ease domestic wheat and atta prices, official sources said.

It was decided in the meeting that wheat will be offered to the flour millers and bulk buyers through e-auction for a maximum quantity of 3,000 metric tonnes per buyer, per auction, from a FCI Region under e-auction.

Wheat will also be offered to state governments for their schemes without e-auction. Apart from the above channels, wheat will be offered at a concessional rate of Rs 2,350 per quintal to government PSUs, cooperatives and federations without e-auction.

The sale under this special scheme will be subject to the stipulation that the buyer will convert wheat to atta and offer it to the public at a MRP of Rs 29.50 per kg. — IANS

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