NEW DELHI, June 17 India on Tuesday set a
minimum export price for onions of $300 per tonne to discourage
overseas shipments amid an inflation scare that threatens to
stoke public anger over rising prices at local food markets.
New Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made tackling inflation
his top priority after widespread resentment about rising prices
contributed to the exit of the previous government last month.
After wholesale price inflation accelerated to a five-month
high in May, the new government imposed the price rule on onions
three months after the previous administration withdrew it. (bit.ly/1lNElaf)
Until early March, the minimum export price was $150 per
Indians consume about 15 million tonnes of onions a year,
using them as the base for curries and traditional dishes such
as biryani and bhaji. In the past, higher onion prices have
contributed to the fall of state governments.
India exports about 1.5 million tonnes of onions a year.
Fears of domestic shortages have been fuelled by a scorching
summer, a lack of chilled storage and a threat of strike action
by distribution workers.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a post on Facebook
late on Monday that the rise in prices of fresh produce could be
due to withholding stocks on fears of a weak monsoon. He vowed
to crack down on "speculative hoarding".
(Reporting by Krishna N Das; Editing by Erica Billingham)