The state government has at last woken up to the reality that prices of the preferred varieties of rice are going through the roof.
With varieties such as Sona Masuri, Samba Masuri, Vijaya Masuri, Tella Masuri, Jeelakarrasannalu and Molakolukulu have been selling for between Rs 35 and Rs 45 a kg for quite sometime now, the government realised on on Wednesday that something ought to be done.
According to civil supplies commissioner Sunil Sharma, the government is planning to set up counters across the state to sell these preferred varieties at less than the open market market. At a meeting with officials, millers are said to have agreed to sell at a lesser price.
“We have not yet decided how much the prices should be. That will take a day or two. Instructions are being issued to joint collectors to open special counters at millers’ locations and rythu bazars. If necessary the Civil Supplies Corporation will set up counters on its own,” Sharma said.
According to sources, the government is not rushing to finalise the discounted price because it has inputs that most of the rice currently being sold is that milled by millers from paddy purchased last year when the minimum support price was about Rs 1,080 per quintal (June 2011 to July 2012). At that MSP, even if they sell rice at Rs 25 per kg, they would still make a good profit. But millers have hiked the price to over Rs 43 in the absence of strict vigilance.
Officials wonder that if the government now fixes a price anywhere between Rs 35 and Rs 40, it would amount to legitimising the black-market price and millers would be encouraged to make money.
Earlier on Wednesday, it was almost decided to peg the price between Rs 35 and Rs 40 but wiser counsel prevailed on the government and an announcement was held back. In the meanwhile, officials were asked to get back to the millers and force them to reduce the price significantly.