A. Price Monitoring Division (PMD)
Price Monitoring Division (PMD) in the Department of Consumer Affairs is responsible for monitoring prices of selected essential commodities. The activities of the division include monitoring of the retail and wholesale prices, and spot and future prices of selected essential commodities on a daily basis. Prices are reported daily on the website. Also, there is limited circulation of hard copies of the price reports to disseminate information on price situation to the policy makers on a daily basis. Price Monitoring Division analyses the price situation and gives advance feedback for taking preventive measures to help policy interventions at appropriate time to prevent undesired shortfall in the availability of essential commodities. In the event of shortage of any specific essential commodity and to keep price of the item under control, Price Monitoring Division also implements commodity-specific market intervention schemes to give temporary relief to the consumers.
B. Price Monitoring
Price is monitored for twenty two essential commodities (Rice, Wheat, Atta, Gram Dal, Tur (Arhar) Dal, Urad Dal , Moong Dal, Masur Dal, Sugar, Gur, Groundnut Oil, Mustard Oil, Vanaspati, Sunflower Oil, Soya Oil, Palm Oil, Tea, Milk, Potato, Onion, Tomato and Salt) based on data collected from 340 market centres spread across the country representing North, West, East, South and North-eastern regions of the country. The Quality and variety of the item for which prices are reported may vary from centre to centre but remains the same for a given centre. Generally, prices are reported for the Fair Average Quality of the item for a given centre. Every centre has a standard quality and variety of item for which prices are reported by them. Data feeding network and data base of prices (daily price data) are maintained by the NIC cell of the Department of Consumer Affairs under the supervision of Price Monitoring Division.
C. Sources of Price Data
Retail and wholesale prices of 22 commodities from 340 centers are received daily from the State Civil Supplies Departments of the respective State Governments through Mobile App developed by the Department. To improve the quality of price data, the department launched a Mobile App on 01.01.2021 - the PMS App - for the reporting of daily prices by the price reporting centres. A drop-down menu in which the variety relevant for that state—e.g. moong whole or dhuli moong, urad whole or split urad—enables consistency in reporting. The Mobile App ensures that reporting is from the actual market location, as data are geo-tagged thereby displaying the location from where price data are reported. This geo-tagged, time-stamped data rules out the possibility of reporting of static information. The Mobile App also has an in-built feature to calculate and report the average price. This takes care of the chances of human error in calculation.
To cross-check the accuracy of prices reported by price reporting centres from the States/UTs, the services of FCI and NAFED have been utilised since February 2021. 162 divisional offices of FCI and 17 field offices of NAFED send daily reports on retail prices of 11 food commodities – rice, wheat, onion, potato, tomato, gram, tur, urad, moong, masoor and sugar. These price reporting centres report prices entirely through the Mobile App. Retail prices reported by the States/UTs are thus compared with the prices reported by the reporting centres of FCI and NAFED on a daily basis. This further validates the price data received from the States/UTs.
D. Production and Dissemination of Price Reports
Daily Price Report consists of the following:
- Daily retail and wholesale prices of the selected 22 essential commodities for last five days, on one week before, one month back and one year back and; retail and wholesale prices in four metros, viz., Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Ranchi for the day, one month back and one year back.
- Daily Retail and wholesale prices of the commodities from centers.
- Variation in retail and wholesale prices of select commodities from centers over a fortnight.
E. Monitoring of other relevant and probable determinants of Prices
Price Monitoring Division also monitors other variables at the national and global level that are likely to impact prices. National level variables that are monitored include Wholesale Price Index , Consumer Price Index , Prices of major vegetables in India , Minimum Support Price, Spot and Future Prices of food and non-food items in India, Production of major crops, Crop area under various crops, Stocks of essential commodities , Government Procurement of Essential Commodities, International and domestic prices of pulses as obtained from NAFED, and Imports and Exports of Essential Commodities. Global level variables that are monitored include: International Food Price Index, Consumer Price indices of different countries, Data on trade and commodity prices and World Agricultural Supply-Demand estimates.
F. Price Analysis and Policy Intervention
The prevailing price situation as well as factors which impact on prices, in both domestic and international markets, are studied and brought to the notice of high level committees, such as Committee of Secretaries (COS), Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), through agenda notes prepared for their meetings, for appropriate action at the policy level. This note reviews the following:
- Inflation based on Wholesale Price Index.
- Area and Production of major food crops.
- Price scenario of Essential Commodities
- Commodity-wise details for wheat, rice, sugar, pulses, edible oils, vegetables and milk containing Area and Production scenario, Procurement scenario, domestic and international prices, and World Markets and Trade Scenario for the specific commodity.
The decisions taken at the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) / Committee of Secretaries (COS) meetings are conveyed to the Ministries /Departments concerned to take appropriate action. The decisions taken in these meetings are implemented by the Ministry/Department concerned which is charged with the responsibility of the subject matter of the decision. Department of Consumer Affairs (PMC) monitors the action taken on those decisions by the concerned Ministries/Departments and submits the action taken report before the Cabinet/CCEA/COS.
G. Market Intervention Schemes
Regular retail price reviews have been instrumental in deciding on strategies for market intervention to stabilize the market and ensure that shortages do not adversely affect the consumers, particularly the vulnerable section of the population. In this context, market intervention activities undertaken for pulses and certain vegetables like onion deserve special mention. Such Market Intervention Schemes are introduced as and when required.
H. The Price Stabilization Fund (PSF)
The Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) was set up with an initial corpus of ₹500 crore to tackle inflationary trends of identified agri-horticultural commodities viz. onion, potatoes and pulses to protect the interests of consumers. These commodities are procured and stored for regulated release to help moderate the prices. Such market intervention by Government would not only help send the appropriate market signal but also deter speculative/hoarding activities.
I. Parliament Question and RTI
In addition to the above, Price Monitoring Division also handles Parliament questions and RTIs relating to prices and market intervention schemes.