Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena today (Jan. 24) acknowledged that rice prices have risen to an all-time high in the history of Sri Lanka. The price of a kilo of Nadu has gone up to Rs. 130, a kilo of Samba to Rs. 160 and a kilo of Kiri Samba to Rs. 220.
The Minister said that no room will be given to maintain this situation and revealed that he has already sought Cabinet approval for a gazette notification for the maximum retail price for a kilo of rice to be at below 100 Rupees. Accordingly, a gazette will be issued following the cabinet meeting, which is to be held on Monday 26th.
Also, the Consumer Protection Act has been amended to confiscate stocks of rice that have been stockpiled by racketeers to sell them at a higher price, and to increase the fine of Rs. 2,500 to Rs.100,000. Minister Gunawardena said that a program will be prepared to maintain the maximum retail price per kilo at Rs. 100 or less.
The Minister of Trade also stated in front of the media.
“The Minister of Agriculture and I have informed the Cabinet, led by the President, to control the sharp rise in rice prices and to formulate a long-term plan to reduce the price of rice to less than Rs. 100 for a period of three years. “
As part of this program, the maximum purchasing price for next season ‘s harvested paddy has been set at Rs. 50 per kilo for Nadu paddy, Rs. 52 per kilo for Samba paddy and Rs. 55 per kilo for Kiri Samba paddy. Large, medium and small scale paddy mill owners agreed to buy paddy at that price. It will be made into a written agreement next week. “
“We will amend the Consumer Protection Act to enable farmers to receive the guaranteed price set by the government at no less than a penny and to enforce the law against all traders, businessmen and racketeers who stockpile paddy to sell at prices higher than that price.”
“Accordingly, if there are stocks of paddy collected by parties other than farmers and paddy mill owners, provisions for confiscation of those stocks will be made in the new Act. Therefore, there will be no benefit to the racketeers in stockpiling paddy this time. “
“After gazetting the maximum retail price for rice and selling rice at a higher price, the fine imposed on a trader under the amended law will be Rs. 100,000 instead of the current fine of Rs. 100,000.”
He also said that with the approval of the Cabinet, 100,000 metric tons of rice will be imported and stored at the Veyangoda warehouse complex.
The Minister said that these actions would be taken after establishing a formal legal framework and that previous attempts and failed attempts would no longer be relevant. .