Persistent inflation a cause of concern, says PM

Food prices have been on upswing since the drought in 2009, which affected agriculture output. Although the situation has improved in recent months, the long-term solution lies in increasing production and productivity in the agricultural sector, prime minister Manmohan Singh said

New Delhi: Admitting that persistent inflation, especially in the food sector, is a cause of concern, prime minister Manmohan Singh today emphasised on increasing the country's agricultural production to enhance food security, reports PTI.

"We have to make a concerted effort to enhance our food security... Our economy has been in reasonably good shape in the past seven years. We have achieved an impressive rate of growth, which we were able to sustain even in the midst of the worst global financial crisis of recent times.

"However, during the past year and a half, persistent inflation, especially in the food sector, has become a cause of concern," Mr Singh said at the inauguration of Civil Services Day here.

The government's consistent policy has been to control inflation without hurting growth, Mr Singh said, emphasising that "We have strived for a delicate and difficult balance to achieve this."

Food prices have been on upswing since the drought in 2009, which affected the agriculture output. Although the situation has improved in recent months, with food inflation coming down to single digit levels, the long-term solution lies in increasing production and productivity in the agricultural sector, Mr Singh said.

Food inflation for the week ended 9th April reversed the declining trend for three weeks, rising by 8.74% as against 8.28% in the previous week.

On monthly basis, food inflation for the month of March was recorded at 8.98%, higher than the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) target of 8%.

"The needs of a growing and increasingly more prosperous population can only be met by enhanced production of a diversified basket of agricultural products," he said while pointing out that the civil services again have a major role to play in achieving a higher rate of growth in the farm sector.

"I hope you will pay more focused attention to this area, and more specifically to the preparation and implementation of district-level agricultural plans," he said.

With monsoon likely to be normal this year, the Planning Commission is hoping to achieve the targeted 4% or more growth in the farm sector. This will be crucial to achieve overall 9% economic growth in the current financial year.

The prime minister also took the opportunity to lay stress on the importance of strengthening local level governance through panchayats and municipalities.

"Our country is too large to be governed effectively from the Centre or even from the state capitals. We have to decentralise power, decentralise decision-making and decentralise the implementation of various development schemes," he said.

The success of third tier of governance is "critical to improved delivery of services and better design and implementation of scheme," Mr Singh said, adding that "our civil servants must do their utmost to facilitate real decentralisation of governance in our country."

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Food inflation reverses 3-week decline, at 8.74% for week ended 9th April

The surge from the last week, which was incidentally the lowest in a year-and-a-half, is likely to put more pressure on the government looking bewildered after the overall inflation for March overshot its forecast of 8% and was recorded at 8.98%

New Delhi: Reversing a three-week declining trend, food inflation shot up to 8.74% for the week ended 9th April from 8.28% in the previous week on account of expensive fruits, protein-based items and onions, reports PTI quoting official data that was released today.

The surge from the last week, which was incidentally the lowest in a year-and-a-half, is likely to put more pressure on the government looking bewildered after the overall inflation for March overshot its forecast of 8% and was recorded at 8.98%.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh today said persistent inflation, especially in the food sector, had become a cause for concern.

While calling for increasing productivity and production in the agriculture sector, he said, "The needs of a growing and increasingly more prosperous population can only be met by enhanced production of a diversified basket of agricultural products."

Mr Singh's grave concern stems from what appears to be an embedded spike in prices of fruits and protein-based items including eggs, meat and fish.

During the week under review, fruits became dearer by 25.25% on year-on-year, while eggs, meat and fish were 14.96% more expensive.

Cereals went up by 4.48% on an annual basis and rice and wheat became expensive by 2.08% and 1.31%, respectively. Onions became expensive by 8.28% year-on-year.

Overall, vegetables became dearer by 1.53%. Potatoes were up by 1.21% and milk became expensive by 4.05% on an annual basis.

Pulses, however, bucked the trend and witnessed a decline of 5.67%.

During the week under review, non-food articles were up by 27.69% year-on-year. Fuel and power became dearer by 13.05%, while petrol was up 21.81%.

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Reliance Mutual Fund floats 92 days fixed horizon fund

Reliance Mutual Fund new issue closes on 26th April

Reliance Mutual Fund has launched Reliance Fixed Horizon Fund-XVIII-Series 10, a close-ended income scheme.

The investment objective of the scheme is to generate regular returns and growth of capital by investing in a diversified portfolio of central and state government securities and other fixed income/debt securities normally maturing in line with the time profile of the scheme with the objective of limiting interest rate volatility. The tenor of the scheme is 92 days.

The new issue closes on 26th April. The minimum investment amount is Rs5,000.

CRISIL Short Term Bond Fund Index is the benchmark index. Amit Tripathi is the fund manager.

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