TAG: GS 3: ECONOMY
THE CONTEXT: The recent revision of wheat stock limits by the Centre comes in response to unchanged soaring prices of wheat and wheat flour across various parts of the country.
- The move aims to regulate stockpiling activities, curb hoarding, and ensure adequate food security.
Revised Stock Limits for Different Entities
- Traders and Wholesalers:
- The revised stock limit for traders and wholesalers has been reduced from 2000 metric tonnes (MT) to 1000 MT, thereby aiming to restrict excessive accumulation.
- Each retail outlet is now permitted to stock five MT, reduced from the previous limit of 10 MT.
- Whereas big chain retailers can store 5 MT per outlet and 1000 MT collectively at their depots, as opposed to the earlier limits of 10 MT and 2000 MT, respectively.
- The new limit for processors is 70% of their monthly installed capacity multiplied by the remaining months of 2023-24.
- This replaces the earlier limit, which was 75% of the annual installed capacity or the quantity equivalent to the monthly installed capacity multiplied by the remaining months of 2023-24, whichever was lesser till the current date.
Government’s Rationale and Regulatory Measures
- Food Security and Preventing Hoarding:
- The Centre emphasizes that these revisions aim to manage overall food security and prevent hoarding and speculative practices within the wheat market.
- Legislation and Enforcement:
- The decisions fall under the Removal of Licensing Requirements, Stock Limits, and Movement Restrictions on Specified Foodstuffs (Amendment) Order, 2023.
- Entities involved in wheat stocking are directed to register on the government’s wheat stock limit portal and update their stock positions weekly.
- Failure to comply or violations may face punitive action under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, with a 30-day window to conform to the prescribed limits.
Monitoring and Market Interventions
- Enforcement and Monitoring:
- The government assures close monitoring by officials at both central and state levels to ensure compliance with these stock limits and to prevent any artificial scarcity of wheat in the country.
- Increased Supplies in Open Market:
- Immediate steps include an increase in supplies in the open market from 3 lakh MT to 4 lakh MT, aimed at enhancing wheat availability.
- Targeted Sales:
- Identifying areas with higher prices, central cooperative organizations such as NAFED, NCCF, and Kendriya Bhandar are engaged in targeted sales to address the immediate market demands and stabilize prices in those regions.
- The government’s decision to revise wheat stock limits intends to strike a balance between ensuring adequate availability of wheat in the market while discouraging hoarding practices that contribute to price escalation.
- By implementing stringent regulations, monitoring mechanisms, and increasing open market supplies, the Centre aims to stabilize prices and maintain sufficient wheat stocks to safeguard food security in the country.