Free Press Journal

Price situation improves, weak monsoon can play spoilsport


New Delhi:  Softening prices of some essential food items including vegetables pulled down inflation both at retail as well the wholesale level in June, although the bleak monsoon situation remains a cause for concern.

While retail inflation in June touched its lowest mark at 7.31 per cent since January 2012, the wholesale price based index slid to four-month low of 5.43 per cent mainly because of easing prices of vegetables.

“Against the backdrop of deficient monsoon, the decline in CPI (Consumer Price Index) from 8.28 per cent in May to 7.31 per cent in June is encouraging,” said PHD Chamber President Sharad Jaipuria.

According to the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) data, inflation eased mainly on fall in vegetable, fuel, edible oil, sugar and onion prices. However, the kitchen staple, potato, went up by 45.52 per cent.

Prices of vegetables during the month declined by 5.89 per cent from May, edible oils – 0.75 per cent and sugar – 2.09 per cent. Onion prices were down by 10.7 per cent.

In the past few months, however, the prices of onion and potato had been going up. The government has taken various steps including imposing minimum export price of USD 500 a tonne on onion and USD 450 tonne on potatoes to improve domestic supply.

It has also put a stock holding limit on these items and has decided to release 50 lakh tonne of rice in open market to prevent price rise due to poor monsoon.

As for retail inflation, based on the movement of CPI, it fell to 30-month low of 7.31 per cent in June, mainly on account of lower prices of food items, including vegetables, cereals and meat.

Retail inflation was 8.28 per cent in May. Its lowest was 7.65 per cent in January 2012, the month the government started releasing the data in percentage terms.