Written by Tharushan Fernando
22 Dec, 2016 | 7:44 pm
The government has decided to import 10,000 metric tonnes of rice as a means to solve the scarcity of rice.
The cabinet of ministers also granted approval to the private sector to import rice.
The Ministry of Industry and commerce said today that they had received the import prices, and samples of rice via the Sri lankan Embassy in New Delhi, India.
The secretary to the ministry stated that the tender committee of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce will select the suitable company and the orders to import will be placed “tomorrow it self.”
Secretary to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce,T.M.K.B. Tennakoon further added that it will take close to a week to accomplish this, and rice will be brought in from India for now while prices of Pakistan and Bangladesh are also being looked at.
“We hope that the rice in the Paddy Marketing Board will come out during the festive season”, he said. The Chairman of the All Ceylon Peasants’ Federation said that if the paddy that is with the government is converted into rice then it can be sold with a profit and if the mill owner is paid Rs. 5 for a kilo then it can be sold for less than Rs 70 with a benefit to the consumer as well.
“There is no scarcity,” he said He charged that the government has taken steps to import rice from India and there will definitely be commissions involved. He pointed out that the country can be fed for months with the rice that is available and that Minister P Harrison himself is saying that the stocks are being hidden and that there is a rice mafia. And what will happen after this is that stocks will also come out, and after two months they will begin to harvest the yield and then they will have to store the paddy and the value of the farmers paddy will go down.
He added that those stocks will be purchased by large scale mill owners and then they will artificially fluctuate the prices and they will rob from the consumers.
Farmers raised their objection with regard to the decision taken by the government to import rice as a solution to the rice crisis. Cabinet approval to import rice was granted today to the private sector as well, based on a suggestion made by Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiyutheen.
The small and medium scale mill owners’ association says however that over thousand mills have been shutdown due to the prevailing situation. They allege that a handful of major mill owners have obtained the rice stocks of the government.
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