Under the present system, retail prices are fixed by market forces, leaving very little room for the government to check undue spike in prices.
"We have already notified amendments to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, to include a provision to fix retail price of any essential commodity," a senior Consumer Affairs Ministry official said.
"If retail sale price of any essential commodity is fixed and notified by the competent authority under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, that same shall apply," he said.
This rule will apply to essential commodities that are sold both in loose and packaged form in retail markets. Asked if government will fix retail prices of essential items on a daily basis hence forth, the official said it will not be done under ordinary circumstances,
Currently, there are measures to control wholesale marketers and importers but not retailers. This provision will help the government to take proactive steps in the interest of consumers, the official added.
The centre has been struggling to curb inflation in pulses, which touched a high of Rs 200 per kg in retail markets in June. The abnormal rise in pulses prices forced the NDA government to take a host of measures, including imports and hike in Minimum Support Prices, to boost domestic supply and now pulses rates have cooled down to an extent.
Price rise is also likely to figure as an important issue in the forthcoming assembly elections across states. In 1998 the Congress had won the Delhi elections on the issue of prevailing high onion prices.