New Delhi: Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday noted that the Centre has taken many pro-active steps in last few years to control retail prices of food items and said the government will keep inflation under control while ensuring country’s economic growth. He was addressing an event, organised by the ministry here, to celebrate National Consumers Day.
“Today, India has become the fastest growing large economy. Going forward, we will keep inflation under check and also ensure economic growth,” Goyal said.
Retail inflation inched up to a three-month high of 5.55 per cent in November driven by higher food prices, according to latest official data.
Inflation had been declining since August when it touched 6.83 per cent.
On steps taken by the central government, Goyal highlighted that 140 new price monitoring centres have been set up to keep a close watch on wholesale and retail prices of essential commodities.
“Today, prices are being monitored at 550 (consuming) centres on a daily basis. This helps in insulating consumers from price rise,” Goyal said.
In the last two years, he said, when the entire world witnessed very high inflation, especially in the food items, India was able to control inflation through pro-active fiscal and monetary policies.
“Whenever inflation (in some commodity) started rising, the government took pro-active measures and controlled it.”
Goyal cited measures taken by the Centre to control price rise in tomatoes and onions in a short period of time.
The government sold tomatoes and onions through retail outlets of NCCF, NAFED and Kendriya Bhandar as well as mobile vans.
In case of onion, he said the government is buying onions from farmers to create buffer stock and ensure they get a fair price of their produce.
He also highlighted that the Centre is selling Bharat Dal at Rs 60 per kg and Bharat atta at Rs 27.50 per kg to provide relief to common man.
The government has banned exports of wheat, broken rice, non-basmati white rice and onions. It has also reduced import duties on edible oils and pulses to boost domestic supply and control price rise.
Talking about consumer protection issues, Goyal appreciated the work done by his ministry and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) to resolve consumers’ grievances.
He stressed on the need to clear backlong of cases pending at consumer courts at national, state and district levels.
“We are all collectively working for better consumer satisfaction,” he said, adding that the country will progress if consumers would be satisfied.
Goyal said his ministry is focusing on adoption of technology in consumer forums for speedy delivery of justice.
To protect consumer interests, Goyal highlighted that the department of consumer affairs has issued a strict guidelines on dark patterns used by online marketplace and is also keeping a close watch on violations.
The minister cited various examples of many dark patterns adopted by e-commerce firms that are detrimental to consumers interest.
Recently, the government has banned use of “dark patterns” on e-commerce platforms which intend to deceive customers or manipulate their choices.
A gazette notification in this regard as “Guidelines for prevention and regulation of dark patterns” was issued on November 30 by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), which is applicable to all platforms offering goods and services in India, and even advertisers and sellers.
Dark patterns have been defined as “any practice or deceptive design pattern using user interface or user experience interactions on any platform that is designed to mislead or trick users to do something they originally did not intend or want to do, by subverting or impairing the consumer autonomy, decision making or choice.”
Goyal also criticised the Congress party for not implementing the gold hallmarking scheme in an effective way.
He said the Narendra Modi-led government has rolled out this scheme in a very effective way with cooperation from all stakeholders.
Goyal emphasised on the need to ensure consumers get quality products at a reasonable rates.
He asked his ministry officials to focus on increasing consumer awareness, creating efficient and responsive governance system, protecting and awarding whistle-blower and strengthening testing facilities.
Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh highlighted that the number of cases disposed is more than the number of cases filed.
There are 5.43 lakh cases pending in the consumer courts, he said, adding that the faster disposal rate would help in clearing the backlog.