The rising food prices have pushed the retail inflation up to 7.61% in October, which is said to be above the comfort level of the Reserve Bank. It was 62% in October 2019.
According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data released by the government, inflation stood at 7.27% in September 2020. The rise in general inflation was mainly on account of elevated food prices which refuse to fall.
As per the data, the Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) rose to 11.07% in October, up from 10.68% in the previous month of September. This sudden spurt in food inflation is blamed to vegetable prices followed by pulses and sugar.
In past, the government took a number of measures to deal with the problem of abrupt increase in prices of pulses and among others approved creation of buffer stock through procurement at Minimum Support Price and at market price through Price Stabilization Fund. On the supply-side, weather-related variables are attributed for unanticipated food inflation. There are other factors involved that decides the prices in contemporary markets across the globe. Among others, malpractices remain one of the factors which greatly affect the pricing. Artificial dearth, hoarding, and monopoly can cause price hike to the disadvantage of the common people. The other contributing agents include cartels. The last person severely affected by these factors is the common consumer. While the concept of liberal trade and free marketing needs encouragement, it never means that the consumers are exploited. Unfortunately, there is an unhindered accumulation of huge capital in the hands of a few manufacturers, pushing the interests of a common customer into jeopardy. The prices are fixed without any regard to the impact it has on the common consumer. The government needs to come forward and streamline the markets especially in controlling factors that are associated with pure malpractices by some unscrupulous people. It also needs to face local challenges with a lot more authority than it is showing presently. At all levels, the government is responsible for safeguarding the interest of the common people. There is a full-fledged department, tasked with the duty of managing the prices of essentials. However, there are complaints the concerned officials are not taking action against the errant which only encourages the former at the peril of a consumer. The government needs to step up efforts to give relief to the common consumer.