- Price Monitoring and Resource Unit set up in Goa under the aegis of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).
- Jal Shakti Ministry reviews progress of implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in J&K; UT is planning universal coverage by December’ 2022, well ahead of national goal by 2023-24.
Price Monitoring and Resource Unit set up in Goa under the aegis of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).
Focus: GS 2 ; Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Why in News?
A Price Monitoring and Resource Unit (PMRU) has been set up in Goa under the aegis of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Government of India.
About National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority;-
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is a government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs in India.
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) was constituted vide Government of India Resolution dated 29th August, 1997 as an attached office of the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
As an independent Regulator for pricing of drugs and to ensure availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices.
It is headquartered in New Delhi.
To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
To deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority.
To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps.
To collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc, for bulk drugs and formulations.
To undertake and/ or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/ pharmaceuticals.
To recruit/ appoint the officers and other staff members of the Authority, as per rules and procedures laid down by the Government.
To render advice to the Central Government on changes/ revisions in the drug policy.
To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing
Price monitoring and resource unit (PMRU);-
The National pharmaceutical and pricing authority(NPPA) under its program called “Consumer awareness, publicity and price monitoring” has set up 12 Price monitoring and resource units in various States and UT’s.
It has planned to set up such units in all 36 states and UTs for better outreach of NPPA in the states as these units will help the NPPA and State drug controller to ensure the accessibility of drugs at affordable prices.
The PMRUs are societies registered under Societies Registration Act,1860 under the direct supervision of State drug controller with its “board of governors” containing nominees of state and central government apart from other stakeholders. They will be funded by NPPA for their recurring and non recurring expenses.
About “Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO)”;-
The Drugs Prices Control Order is an order issued by the Government of India under Sec. 3 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to regulate the prices of drugs.
The Order interalia provides the list of price controlled drugs, procedures for fixation of prices of drugs, method of implementation of prices fixed by Govt., penalties for contravention of provisions etc.
For the purpose of implementing provisions of DPCO, powers of Govt. have been vested in NPPA.
Are all the drugs marketed in the country under price control ?
Answer is No.
The National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011 is adopted as the primary basis for determining essentiality, which constitutes the list of scheduled medicines for the purpose of price control.
The DPCO 2013 contains more than 600 scheduled drug formulations spread across 27 therapeutic groups. However, the prices of other drugs can be regulated, if warranted in public interest.
What is Essential Commodities Act?
Enacted in 1955.
Used by the Government to regulate the production, supply and distribution of a whole host of commodities it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.
The list of items under the Act include drugs, fertilizers, petroleum and petroleum products.
The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises, and take them off the list once the situation improves.
Under the Act, the government can also fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of any packaged product that it declares an “essential commodity”.
How it works?
If the Centre finds that a certain commodity is in short supply and its price is spiking, it can notify stock-holding limits on it for a specified period.
The States act on this notification to specify limits and take steps to ensure that these are adhered to.
Anybody trading or dealing in a commodity, be it wholesalers, retailers or even importers are prevented from stockpiling it beyond a certain quantity.
A State can, however, choose not to impose any restrictions. But once it does, traders have to immediately sell into the market any stocks held beyond the mandated quantity.
Why the recent Economic Survey said that this act is outdated and must go?
In September 2019, the Centre invoked the ECA Act’s provisions to impose stock limits on onions after heavy rains wiped out a quarter of the kharif crop and led to a sustained spike in prices.
Although the restrictions on both retail and wholesale traders were meant to prevent hoarding and enhance supply in the market, the Survey showed that there was actually an increase in price volatility and a widening wedge between wholesale and retail prices.
This is due to the fact that ECA act fails to differentiate between hoarding and Storage.
Thus in the long term, the Act disincentives development of storage infrastructure, thereby leading to increased volatility in prices following production/ consumption shocks — the opposite of what it is intended for.
The report finds that the ECA has been enacted in the year 1955, when the economy was ravaged by famine and food shortages. The government should note that today’s scenario is much more different.
Why ECA is important?
The ECA gives consumers protection against irrational spikes in prices of essential commodities.
The Government has invoked the Act umpteen times to ensure adequate supplies.
It cracks down on hoarders and black-marketers of such commodities.
State agencies conduct raids to get everyone to toe the line and the errant are punished.
Without the ECA the common man would be at the mercy of opportunistic traders and shopkeepers. It empowers the government to control prices directly too.
Ex: The Union Government has brought masks and hand-sanitisers under the ECA to make sure that these products, key for preventing the spread of Covid-19 infection, are available to people at the right price and in the right quality.
What about Food Items?
The items covered include rice, wheat, atta, gram dal, arhar dal, moong dal, urad dal, masoor, dal, tea, sugar, salt, Vanaspati, groundnut oil, mustard oil, milk, soya oil, palm oil, sunflower oil, gur, potato, onion and tomato.
Based on the deliberations, Government takes various measures from time to time to stabilize prices of essential food items which, inter-alia, include appropriately utilizing trade and fiscal policy instruments like import duty.
The govt. can impose stock limits and advise State for effective action against hoarders & black marketers etc. to regulate domestic availability and moderate prices.
The government utilizes the buffer of agri-horticultural commodities like pulses, onion, etc. built under Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) to help moderate the volatility in prices.
Price Stabilization Fund (PSF);-
The PSF was set up in 2014-15 under the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Famers Welfare (DAC&FW) to help regulate the price volatility of important agri-horticultural commodities like onion, potatoes and pulses were also added subsequently.
Procurement of these commodities will be undertaken directly from farmers or farmers’ organizations at farm gate/mandi and made available at a more reasonable price to the consumers.
Losses incurred, if any, in the operations will be shared between the Centre and the States.
PSF provides for advancing interest-free loans to State Governments/ UTs and Central agencies to support their working capital and other expenses they might incur on procurement and distribution interventions for such commodities.
The scheme provides for maintaining a strategic buffer of the commodities for subsequent calibrated release to moderate price volatility and discourages hoarding and unscrupulous speculation.
The PSF is managed centrally by a Price Stabilization Fund Management Committee (PSFMC) which will approve all proposals from State Governments and Central Agencies.
The PSF is maintained as a Central Corpus Fund by Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), a society promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture for linking agriculture to private businesses and investments and technology.
Jal Shakti Ministry reviews progress of implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in J&K; UT is planning universal coverage by December’ 2022, well ahead of national goal by 2023-24.
Focus: GS 2 ; Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Why in News?
Children are the future of every nation and to provide safe water and improved hygiene is essential for their growth and holistic development. Ministry of Jal Shakti had launched a 100-day campaign on 2nd October, 2020 based on the vision and under direction of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to ensure potable water supply in all schools and Anganwadi centers across the country.
The Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir plans to fulfil Prime Minister’s vision by provide safe water in all these institutions within the campaign period, so that the children will have access to potable piped water for drinking, hand washing and for use in toilets when the schools reopen.