Inflation likely to ease further: Mukherjee

New Delhi: Encouraged by the marginal decline in inflation, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said he was hopeful prices would come down further in the coming months amidst increase in food stocks and decline in costs of manufactured items.

“The April prices have come down both on the manufacturing sector and food sector…Therefore, this is good trend and if it continues, then perhaps it will be more moderated,” Mr. Mukherjee told reporters here.

The overall inflation, as measured by wholesale prices, has come down to 8.66 per cent for April from 9.04 per cent in March, official data released today showed.

On a month-on-month basis, prices of food articles declined to 8.71 per cent in April from 9.47 per cent in March this year. Also inflation in manufactured items fell to 6.18 per cent in April from 6.50 per cent in March.

On Rs. 5-a litre hike in petrol prices since yesterday, Mr. Mukherjee said since the petroleum product is deregulated, the oil marketing companies had to decide on the timing of price hike.

“It was for the petroleum companies to decide at what point of time they will do so. When we deregulate it, then we have to leave it to the judgement of the OMCs,” Mr. Mukherjee added.

This is the eighth hike in petrol price since June 2010, when the government had freed petrol price from its control even though oil companies continued to follow ‘informal’ advice from the oil ministry on rate revision.

The three state-run OMCs – IOC, HPCL and BPCL- had not raised prices since January in view of assembly elections in states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Meanwhile, food stocks in the country have more than doubled to 44.18 million tonnes as on April 1, 2011 against the buffer norm of 21.2 million tonnes.