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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Edition 18; Spiraling Prices Burden Citizens


This seems the season of price hike. It was not long ago that the citizens braced themselves for paying more for most of the essential commodities, there is more in store. For a common citizen, managing own household in the new fiscal year, which started from Apri 1, is going to be a tedious affair.
On the one hand, the traders are protesting the hike in Value Added Tax all over the state. On the other hand, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has approved the new octroi rates, read hiked rates, between half to one per cent. The products affected by the hike include computers, liquor, medical equipment, construction material and motorcycles. As of now, there will be no changes in octroi rates on gold and silver.
The Maharashtra government has increased the Value Added Tax (VAT) by one per cent on a wide range of goods. The increase in VAT is applied on 105 goods, ranging from garments to utensils, from the existing level of four per cent to five per cent.
Mohan Oswal, chairman of the action committee formulated by the Poona Merchants' Chamber, said, "The chamber had observed a token strike last week but the government has not taken cognisance of the situation. The increased VAT will finally be passed on to consumers, who will be paying extra for these essential commodities."
Deepak Bora, chairman of the chamber, said: "We will meet the chief minister next week. We will also discuss the stringent Packed Commodity Act. Though the merchant community is not involved in packing or processing, they are going to be affected by the Act." Even though the traders are opposing it, a roll overs seems unlikely. The ultimate effect will be on the consumers who will end up paying more for these goods.
In the annual budget presented by state finance minister Sunil Tatkare, the state government has hiked VAT by one per cent on the sale of material used in construction of flats. One per cent VAT will be payable on the contract price of flats mentioned in the agreement of sale. This will result in further increase in property rates. Already country’s two leading private lenders ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank have raised lending rates for home and auto loans.
There is little respite though. The central government decision to increase the tax slabs and RBI’s guideline to banks asking them to calculate interest on savings deposits on a daily basis beginning April 1 will help the hapless consumers to save some money. In a recent ordinance, the government has hiked the VAT on essential commodities like groundnuts, tea powder and coffee from 4 per cent to 5 per cent, fuelling price rise in the retail market.
If staying in the home becomes dearer, travelling to other places is not too different. Travel along tolled national highways across the country is now more expensive. From Thursday, the National Highway Authority of India’s revised toll rates came into force. For cars, the toll went up from the existing 71 paise to 76 paise per km. For other vehicles, the increase ranges from 6 paise to 11 paise per km. This increase is linked to the wholesale price index.
The exact toll amount to be paid by motorists will be a rounded-off figure close to Rs 5 denomination. By October, the tolls for other tolled-roads, too, would be revised upwardly.The new toll rate was fixed based on the increase in the wholesale price index (WPI) which is around 9.59 in February. The revised rates are immediately applicable to 24 national highways.
Surprisingly, the government claims otherwise. According to a statement by government of India, “A declining trend has started in the prices of food commodities over the past few weeks. Over the last three months prices of atta, gram dal, tur dal, urad dal, moong dal, masoor dal, potato and onion have shown a declining trend while rice, wheat and salt have remained constant. Apart from these, over the last one month prices of wheat, sugar, mustard oil and tea have also started showing a declining trend.”
The statement was released in the first week of March. Unfortunately, this resolve has not seen translated into reality.The price of almost every consumer product, too, is set to move northwards due to the combined effect of the two budgets. These include cars, cement, steel, refrigerators, air conditioners and television.
With the economy going upward and India successfuly weathering worst economic crisis in decades, this price rise is sure to hit the common citizens.
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Your Say
Need For Green Census Census 2010 has been started with a bang. Huge tons of paper is used for forms etc. The government can opt for an online collection of data. Everyone agrees on the need to go green; this should be an occasion to demonstrate the will. I request the authorities concerned to go for the green option in the case of the census. Sudhakar Deshpande, Pune Educating All Government of India deserved to be congratulated because it has announced its resolve to provide free and compulsory education to every childran within age 6-14 years in the country. It is another question whether the states will be able to do justice with the spirit of this act. It is understandable to know that it will be difficult to construct buildings, provide furniture, establish libraries, laboratories, workshops, play grounds and at the same time to provide teaching staff in all these schools. Most of the states are not in a position to run schools which are already in existence and it is highlighted timke and again that posts for teachers are lying vacant because of paucity of funds. A large number of children who are within this prescribed age limits are already at work and they are earning and helping parents. The state will face difficulty in putting all these children in schools and to compensate parents who had been collecting money from these children at work. I hope the state will be able to cope up with all these difficulties and will come out with flying colours. We have already lost much time in following the directive principle as enshrined in the Constitution of India. However, better late than never. Congratulations to government again for this noble act. Ramesh Modak, Ghopadi

The Bare Necessities India is heading swiftly towards growth. The economists and media pundits expressed their belief that the country will be an economic superpower in the world in near future. But how is this possible when 80% of the Indian population earns only 20 rupees per day and on the other hand when the prices of the essential commodities are soaring tremendously everyday? Only 20% of the Indians are earning lakhs and crores of rupees nearly everyday. Who can buy daily necessities with the daily wage of Rs 20? Buying the daily necessities has become extremely impossible. Does economic growth mean computers, internet, cell phones, latest bikes and cars? Nandkumar Waghmare, Aundh
The Double Standards While condemning Narendra Modi and BJP for riots of Gujarat in 2002, other political parties adopt double standards. While going hammer and tongs on actor Amitabh Bachchan for having become the ambassador of Gujarat, the Congress spokesperson has forgotten his own party's history of associating with him in the past. The Congress is as much responsible for the Delhi riots as is the BJP for the Gujarat carnage. Why indulge in mudslinging? It is time our politicians concentrated on more ground issues such as price rise, health, food and education, instead of wasting time to score brownie points. Political parties are never tired of exploiting the people’s sentiments to gain political mileage. The Congress blames the BJP for the Gujarat riots but conveniently forgets the massacre of 1984. Same is the case with the BJP or any other party. It is high time these parties to take responsibility for their actions.
Nikita S., Aundh

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