New Delhi: The government today allocated an additional five million tonnes of wheat and rice stocks to the states for sale to the poor at subsidised rates, with a view to contain food inflation and free up godowns for new crops, reports PTI.
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, also decided to extend the ban on pulses exports and allow duty-free imports of pulses till March 2012.
“In today's EGoM meeting, it was decided to give additional 25 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice quota at the BPL (Below Poverty Line) rate to the states," food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar told reporters after the meeting.
This additional 25 lakh tonnes to BPL category will be over and above the normal quota, he added. BPL families get wheat and rice at Rs4.15 and Rs5.65 per kg, respectively.
“It was also decided to give 25 lakh tonnes additional quota of wheat and rice to APL (Above Poverty Line) families at APL rate, which is at a higher rate of Rs11.85 rice and Rs8.45 wheat.
“A total 50 lakh tonnes of additional quota of wheat and rice has been approved to the states and they can lift (the stocks) from tomorrow,” Mr Pawar said.
The government is sitting on a huge buffer stock of wheat and rice, significantly higher than the buffer norms, on the back of bumper production and procurement in the last few years.
Food inflation rose to 12.13% for the week-ended 11th December.
According to annual inflation data, rice prices increased by 1.4%, while wheat declined by 5.14%.
Wheat prices are generally higher in the four months till March leading to arrival of new Rabi (winter) crops. Branded atta (wheat flour) prices have already risen to Rs17-Rs19 a kg.