With the Rabi season entering its last phase, the Centre on Thursday decided to extend the validity of power it had granted to state governments under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 for six more months to enable them to take action against hoarding of wheat and pulses by private traders. At the end of the season, the Government will begin its wheat procurement operations. The decision, taken during a meeting of the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, comes under the backdrop of firming up of domestic prices of pulses and higher global prices of wheat, which the Government has found difficult to import. Following the recent fuel price hike, the decision also aims to keep tab on inflationary pressure by controlling hoarding of wheat and pulses by the private traders. Under the Act, the state governments can register cases against persons engaged in hoarding of agricultural commodities under which the offenders can be imprisoned for a period of up to six months. The Centre had first issued the notification to this effect on August 29, 2006 for a period of six months, which it had continued extending under the worries of inflation that had even crossed the 6-per cent mark last year. The Cabinet also gave approval to a bilateral agreement between India and the Russian Federation on cooperation to combat illicit trafficking in narcotics, psychotropic substance and their precursors. In another decision, the Cabinet approved an agreement between India and Luxemburg that will help both countries in avoiding double taxation and fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and capital.