- The Price Monitoring Division (PMD) in the Department of Consumer Affairs is monitoring the retail and wholesale prices of 22 essential food commodities due to increased panic buying by customers.
Essential Commodities Act
- The ECA is an act which was established to ensure the delivery of certain commodities or products, the supply of which if obstructed owing to hoarding or black-marketing would affect the normal life of the people.
- The ECA was enacted in 1955. This includes foodstuff, drugs, fuel (petroleum products) etc.
- It has since been used by the Government to regulate the production, supply and distribution of a whole host of commodities it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.
- Additionally, the government can also fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of any packaged product that it declares an “essential commodity”.
- The list of items under the Act includes drugs, fertilizers, pulses and edible oils, and petroleum and petroleum products.
- The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises, and takes them off the list once the situation improves.
About Food Items
- The items covered include rice, wheat, atta, gram dal, arhar dal, moong dal, urad dal, masoor, dal, tea, sugar, salt, Vanaspati, groundnut oil, mustard oil, milk, soya oil, palm oil, sunflower oil, gur, potato, onion and tomato.
- Based on the deliberations, Government takes various measures from time to time to stabilize prices of essential food items which, inter-alia, include appropriately utilizing trade and fiscal policy instruments like import duty.
- The govt. can impose stock limits and advise State for effective action against hoarders & black marketers etc. to regulate domestic availability and moderate prices.
- The government utilizes the buffer of agri-horticultural commodities like pulses, onion, etc. built under Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) to help moderate the volatility in prices.