India in agrarian crisis, NDA has curbed inflation: Jaitley

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday that the country is currently experiencing an agrarian crisis but his government has been successful in checking inflation.

“India is facing an agrarian crisis,” Jaitley said in his intervention in the Rajya Sabha on the motion of thanks to the president’s address at the opening of the budget session of parliament, adding that poor rural demand was a constraint on growth.

The Budget 2016-17, presented by him on February 29, has increased the allocations on agriculture, irrigation and rural infrastructure in order to help farmers cope with the impact of two successive years of poor rainfall, he said.

“Inflation has come down considerably compared to the double-digit inflation prevailing before we came into government.

“The wholesale price index (WPI) inflation has gone into the negative for some time now, while CPI (consumer price index, or retail inflation) has been in the positive,” he said.

As per official data last month, retail inflation climbed to 5.69 percent in January from 5.61 percent in the month before, while a seasonal softening in food prices and a sharp drop in fuel costs resulted in the annual wholesale rate of inflation declining marginally to (-)0.90 percent from (-)0.73 percent in Decembar last year.

The finance minister said that in the globally integrated economy of today, global prices have a domestic impact.

“Prices of a large number of items have come down,” he said, indicating that the oppositon parties were not considering these, but were only pointing at pulses’ prices that have shot up dramatically over the past few months.

“Some items did experience a shortfall in production both domestically and abroad,” he added.

Jaitley also said that the import of cheap steel from China was hurting Indian manufacturers.

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