Govt will take hard decisions to curb inessential imports: FM

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New Delhi: Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said 'hard decisions' would be taken in the next few days and weeks to trim wasteful expenditure and curb import of 'inessential' items.
"We have to take some hard decisions. Many of these measures are being taken, and many measures will be announced in next few days and weeks. Some measures to curb import inessential items will also be announced," he said concluding a debate on Appropriation Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
He described inflation as the worst form of taxation which hit the poorest the most and said that the government would be coming out with more measures to deal with the price situation.
On the issue of hiking oil prices in the backdrop of rising prices in the international market and rupee depreciation, Chidambaram said "no decision has been taken and no decision will be taken in haste" and the government will weigh pros and cons before announcing any step.
Reacting to a suggestion for cutting taxes on petroleum products, he said the matter could be considered provided states too agree to reduce the incidence of tax on oil goods.
Attributing the sudden fall in the value of rupee to the May 22 announcement of the US Federal Reserve regarding withdrawal of monetary stimulus.
He called for curbing of wasteful expenditure and also stressed on the need to curb all inessential imports. "When you have the money, you can import anything and it does not make any difference to the economy. But when you are facing a stressful situation, you have to curb inessential imports," he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP accused the government of failing to control the price rise. BJP blamed Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for "failure" to control prices despite he being an economist.
Initiating the debate on Appropriation Bill, 2013, Prakash Javadekar (BJP) said inflation in India was very high.  "The economist Prime Minister's biggest failure in 10 years is to arrest price rise. It is not a natural calamity. It is created by Congress. The common people are suffering ever since the Congress government came to power," he said.
The Rajya Sabha also authorised the government to withdraw an additional Rs 7,500 crore from the Consolidated Fund of India to meet the demands for various schemes, including Rs 1,000 crore each needed for setting up of 'Nirbhaya Fund' for safety of women and for women's bank. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on September 5.

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