Rice prices boil over – reports of importing rice from Bangladesh

Rice prices boil over – reports of importing rice from Bangladesh

Written by Staff Writer

26 Aug, 2014 | 10:21 pm

The price of rice in the marketplace has exceeded government imposed price controls. Retailers say that the prices have increased as they are sold rice for a higher price by wholesalers.

The government has imposed a maximum retail price of Rs.77 rupees per kilogramme of Samba and Rs.66   per kilogram of Nadu. Are retailers selling rice in adherence with the price controls? News1st visited several retailers to find out.

Our reporter witnessed that all rice varieties are being sold at more than Rs. 80 per kilogramme.

There is the retail price and the wholesale price. The government has not stipulated a wholesale price. Shop owners don’t have rice to sell at the retail price.

Our attempts to make inquiries from the Ministry of Internal Trade and Cooperatives regarding the dilemma, were unsuccessful. However, on a previous occasion, the Consumer Affairs Authority noted that those violating price controls would be arrested.

Director General of Consumer Affairs Authority, J.M.A. Douglas expressed the following views:

“The matter of imposing a wholesale price has been brought to the attention of the Honourable Subject Minister Johnston Fernando. That is still being discussed and a decision could be reached in the near future.”

UNP Parliamentarian, Ravi Karunanayake also expressed his views on this situation, “The government is dancing around on one hand saying they will give a certified price for farmers. On the other hand they say they will protect the consumer and then they do things like this.”

He added; “I ask what the Consumer Affairs Authority is doing? The Authority too has understood the farce that is being acted out by this government and it has come to a state where they cannot conduct a raid. We call on the Minister too to come with us to a shop to see what can be done if the maximum retail price is being violated. We must not blaming the traders: we should be blaming the policies of this government.”

The rice yield over recent harvests declined as a result of non-conducive weather conditions. According to the Finance Ministry, a 16 percent drop was seen last harvest alone. In the Yala season, less than 40 percent of paddy fields were cultivated.

JVP General Secretary , Tilvin Silva also commented on this issue:

“The price of paddy has increased because the harvest yield was very low. When the price of paddy increase of course the price of rice too will increase. When the people go to the shops today they find that rice prices are very high. ”

He added; “Although the government has imposed price controls, no one is selling at that price and the traders too are facing a crisis. So the traders put up the board showing the controlled price but they sell it on the sly. The business community and the consumers are facing a crisis. We believe that if this continues, rice prices could exceed 100 rupees a kilogram.”

Foreign Media report that the Sri Lankan government has decided to import 50,000 metric tonnes of  rice from Bangladesh for the first time after the independence of the country.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting Food Minister of Bangladesh Qamrul Islam said that the Sri Lankan government has sought 100,000 tonnes of rice from Bangladesh.

The minister has added that the sending  of the remaining 50,000 tonnes of rice will be decided, depending on the harvest in Bangladesh.

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