People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 18, 2007
Fight Price Rise
CPI(M) Kerala state secretariat urged the UPA government to take urgent and effective measures to check the spurt in the prices of essential commodities. The UPA government had failed to tackle people's grievances and it had proved to be a failure in containing the grave situation, CPI(M) said. To protest the stance of the central government in dealing with the situation, CPI(M) will organise dharnas in front of central government offices at every area centre all over the state. The secretariat also demanded a total roll back of the price hike of petrol and diesel since last June.
One of the main reasons for the price spiral was the central government’s promotion of MNCs and private retail monopolies such as Reliance and dilution of laws that ensured effective functioning of public distribution system, the secretariat in its statement pointed out. These MNCs and national private monopolies were aiming at opening more and more retail outlets in the state and for that purpose they were hoarding essential commodities excessively. The CPI(M) urged that the amendments to central laws which facilitated the private monopolies to get into retail trade sector should be repealed. In spite of the centre’s such stance, the LDF government was taking all possible measures to help people take on the situation by intervening effectively in market operations and by strengthening the public distribution network in the state, the secretariat pointed out.
The chief minister V S Achuthanandan said that the LDF government declared stringent measures to clamp down on black marketing and hoarding in the state. Public distribution shops would be strengthened and the government would thereby intervene in the market sternly, he said after a high-level meeting of ministers and government officials to review the situation and consider steps to check the price hike. Food items would be procured directly from the production centres to check profiteering. Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) would intervene strongly in the market to hold the price line. Supplyco would sell essential commodities at two percent below the market prices through Super Maveli Stores, he said. Steps were being taken to distribute more sugar and pulses through ration shops. Vegetables would be made available through selected Supplyco outlets. Actions would be taken against the shops that hesitated to exhibit price tables, he warned. District collectors had been directed to take stern action including raids against those indulging in black marketing and hoarding.
The chief minister pointed out that the private monopolies were trying for a total take over of the retail trade sector of the state by pushing out small retail traders. The LDF government and the MPs of the state would pressurise the UPA government to change its stance, the chief minister, said. Since the cut in the state’s quota of food grains, sugar, and kerosene also was one of the reasons for the price rise, efforts would be made to get the centre to restore the earlier quotas.