Inflation to be eased within two months: minister


New Delhi : Inflation, currently at over 7.5 percent, should ease in the next two months as steps are being taken to bring down prices, the government assured Thursday.

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Union Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar told reporters that except for iron and steel, all other commodities have witnessed a decline in prices.

“We also have the support of the industry. We have been trying to persuade steel producers to slash prices. Iron ore, steel and cement would continue to remain under the government scanner,” said Kumar.

On Wednesday, steel producers announced cut in prices by up to Rs.4,000 a tonne after a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Kumar said the government was not helpless in containing inflation and that a series of measures are being taken to ensure that inflation is brought down by at least one percentage point in the next two months.

“More measures, both administrative and fiscal, are in the offing to control inflation,” said the minister.

Prices of wheat, rice and edible oils have already come down between March 1 and May 6, said Kumar. Wheat prices have declined by 1.6 percent, wheat by 9.1 percent and edible oil by over 18 percent, he pointed out.

The wholesale price-based annual inflation rate is currently at over 7.5 percent, the highest in more than three years, forcing the government and the central bank to take fiscal and monetary steps to contain prices.

The government Wednesday banned futures trading in four food items – gram, refined soya, potato and rubber – for four months, a move aimed at arresting inflation.