Govt and RBI taking steps to keep inflation below 6 per cent, says FM Sitharaman


Andlib Akhter / NEW DELHI

Responding to the Opposition MPs concern over price rise in Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that Indian economy is in much better condition as compared to situation prevailing in many of its peer group nations as well as in developed economies.

Opposition MPs in the upper House in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday raised concerns over the rising inflation in the country that is impacting the common people and asked the government to provide relief to the poor by reducing duties.

Replying to a discussion on the the rising prices of essential items in the country in the Rajya Sabha, Ms Sitharaman said that the macro economic fundamentals of the country are strong.

The Finance Minister said that the rate of inflation is currently at 7 per cent and the government and Reserve Bank of India are collectively taking steps to control it and keeping it below 6 per cent. She said, there is no GST on withdrawal of cash from banks by the customer or the cheque books, She said, GST has been impose on the cheque books when it is purchased by the banks from the printers. On GST hike, she there is no GST on hospital bed or ICU but it has been imposed on hospital room of more than five thousand rupees per day.

Earlier, initiating the discussion, Elamaram Kareem of CPI (M) criticized the government for inflation and GST hike on essential commodities. He said, price of essential items including rice, wheat and edible oil has increased during the last eight years which are adversely affecting the common man. He questioned the government over the GST hike on essential commodities saying that the decision was not taken unanimously in the GST council meeting as claimed by the Centre. He alleged that government policies are in the favour of the rich and corporate.

Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil also criticized the government saying that inflation rate has almost doubled during the last one year. He raised question over the rising unemployment in the country. He said, the government has raised the GST on the essential items rather than providing relief to the people.

Derek O’Brien of TMC also questioned the government over the GST hike, depreciation of the value of rupee and rising unemployment. He said, 29 per cent of youth of the country are unemployed. Tiruchi Siva of DMK said, the country has never seen such a critical time as witnessed during the rule of current government. He questioned the government on rising unemployment, adverse impact on economy by the demonetisation drive and GST hike on essential items. Sanjay Singh of AAP criticized the government on the issue of rising inflation and unemployment in the country. He alleged that the government’s policies are in the favour of corporate. Mr. Singh also raised the issue of Gujarat hooch tragedy and alleged misuse of central agencies.

On the other hand, Prakash Javadekar of BJP highlighted several government measures to contain inflation. He said, Covid pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict have caused supply chain disruption which resulted in hike in petroleum products across the world. He said, 80 crore people have been provided free food grain during the Covid pandemic. He said, over one lakh crore rupees additional fertilizer subsidies were provided to the farmers. He targeted opposition ruled States for not reducing taxes on petroleum product as done by Centre and BJP ruled States to provide relief to common man. He accused the opposition for adopting double standard on the issue of GST hike on essential commodities as they took part in a unanimous decision in GST council while now they are opposing it. He said, food inflation was in the double digit during the previous UPA government, while Narendra Modi government has kept it in the range of 5 to 7 percent during its rule. On the issue of depreciation of rupees, Mr. Javadekar said, Indian currency has appreciated in comparison to its peer currencies.

V Vijayasai Reddy of YSRCP said that it is the responsibility of the government to take steps to control the inflation. He also demanded the government to increase the rate of interest on Small Saving Scheme like PPF and Sukanya Samridhi Yojana.

Sujeet Kumar of BJD said that the price rise and inflation impact the middle class and poor the most. He raised the issue of GST hike on essential items and urged the government to roll back the tax burden imposed on common man.

Manoj Kumar Jha of RJD raised the issue of hike in GST rates on items concerning the common man and demanded the government to withdraw it.

Mahua Maji of JMM raised the issue of price rise saying that high rates on food items will impact the common man .

Birendra Prasad Baishya of AGP sought the government to reconsider and withdraw the GST hike on essential items.

Participating in the discussion, Dr Sudhanshu Trivedi of BJP countered the opposition’s accusation of high inflation in the country. He said, the rate of inflation in the country is at 7 per cent while in around 63 countries this rate is more than 10 per cent while it is 50 per cent and 100 per cent in some other countries. He said, the foreign exchange reserve and Foreign Direct Investment are at all time high in the country.

Ram Nath Thakur of JD(U) has reqeuested the government not to impose GST on essential items like flour ,rice and pulses instead it should be taxed on luxurious items.

Rajani Ashorao of Patil of NCP criticized the government over the issue of price rise said that the common man particularly the women are facing its cascading effect.

Jose K Mani of KC(M) drew the attention of the government towards the prise rise and inflation.
MDMK Member Vaiko said that the common people are now suffering from the price rise after the pandemic which mostly affects the lower income group. He urged the government to bring down the existing LPG prices at the level where it was during 2014.

Kanakmedala Ravindra Kumar of TDP appealed to the government to roll back the GST hike imposed on essential items like rice, wheat and milk products.

M Thambidurai of DMK said that the price rise is a common phenomena now and it can be controlled with joint efforts of the Centre and the State governments.

Abdul Wahab of IUML drew attention towards the hike in GST rate on essential items and requested Finance Minister’s intervention.

Ghanshyam Tiwari of BJP, Ranjeet Ranjan of Congress, Fauzia Khan of NCP, Binoy Vishwam of CPI, Jayant Chaudhary of RLD Ram Gopal Yadav of SP, K R Suresh Reddy of TRS and Ramji of BSP among those participated in the discussion.