Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during a debate on the soaring prices of onion in parliament on Wednesday, said that she "doesn't eat onions much". She went on to say that she belongs to a family that has little use for the kitchen staple.
"I don't eat a lot of onions and garlic, so don't worry. I come from a family that doesn't have much to do with onions," Nirmala Sitharaman said.
She said this while listing the measures government has taken to check rising prices of onion and has initiated steps to improve technology for better storage of the kitchen staple.
The minister also dismissed the criticism that there was any fear among the investors by pointing out that FDI inflows have gone up to USD 209 billion during the first half of the current fiscal from USD 17 billion in the same period a year ago.
Replying to the debate on the first batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants, which was later passed by the Lok Sabha, she said the government has taken several steps to check rising prices of onion include ban on exports, imposition of stock limit, import and transfer of onion from surplus to deficit area.
Prices of onion in many places have crossed Rs 100 per kg because of less production.
"I must say, from 2014, I have also been part of some of the group of ministers, which monitored the ups and downs in onion markets. Sometimes when there was surplus of crop we have also facilitated by giving support to those people who want to export it. I have overnight past orders for helping with 5-7 per cent assistance for exporting," she said.
Attributing shortage to low production, the minister said there are severe structural problems related to onions.
"One is we don't have scientifically advanced methods of storing...So that is one of the things, so we need to have greater scientific storage facility for onions we have started working on it...then also to give better storage capacities within that region particularly around Lasalgaon," she said.
She, however, mentioned, "I belong to a family which does not eat onion and garlic." The minister also said that due to implementation of direct benefit transfer scheme, the government has been able to save Rs 1.41 lakh crore in the last five years by plugging loopholes.
The government plugged all loopholes through DBT and "all dalals and middlemen have been eliminated from the system...How the DBT is making it to reach the actual workers and not dalal. No dalal no cheating. Money reaching to actual worker", she said.