No clarity over increase in pulse buffer stock

There seems to be some confusion in the government regarding the size of buffer stock of pulses.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said on Tuesday, “Government has approved creation of buffer stock of 1.7 lakh MT of pulses for effective market intervention.” A ministerial meeting a week ago, however, had reportedly decided to increase the buffer stock of pulses by 12 lakh metric tons—from the existing 8 lakh tons to 20 lakh tons. Paswan, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Information & Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Paswan attended the meeting.

In the Lok Sabha, Paswan listed other steps taken to rein in pulse prices, a major factor in inflation, are:

  1. Export of all pulses is banned except kabuli channa and up to 10,000 MTs in organic pulses and lentils.
  2. Import of pulses is allowed at zero import duty.
  3. Stock limit on pulses extended till September 30, 2016.
  4. The minimum support price or MSP raised for kharif pulses of 2016-17 for tur, urad and oong as well as for rabi pulses of gram and masoor for season 2015-16.
  5. The government has released around 21,000 MT of pulses from the buffer stock (consisting of tur and urad) to states/UTs at subsidized rates for retailing by them at not more than Rs 120 per kg to improve availability and stabilize prices.
  6. The Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has banned new contracts in chana to dampen speculative activities in chana and in respect of running contracts in chana disallowed taking fresh positions to reduce speculative activities.
  7. Strict vigilance by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence to prevent importers from mis-using the facilities of Customs Bonded Warehouse facility.
  8. Setting up of a Group of Officers for regular monitoring and exchange of information on hoarding, cartelization, etc.
  9. A Plan scheme titled the Price Stabilization Fund is being implemented to regulate price volatility of agricultural commodities.