Feb 21, 2017

'400,000 MT rice in SL retail market at this moment’

Despite a huge 400,000 MT volume of rice supply has been discovered to be available within Sri Lanka’s retail market at this very moment, an unscrupulous play within the system has resulted in a supply crisis, alleged Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen also asked not lay blame on the local rice millers for the crisis while hinting that Sri Lanka has not decided on a country from which to import buffer stocks, but “is ready to (place the order) for import” as well.
Minister Bathiudeen, joined by his top officials was addressing a special press briefing on the country’s rice supply status at the Government Information Department, Narahenpita on the afternoon of 20 February.
Explaining the presently developing scenario, Minister Bathiudeen said: “the country needs 200,000 Mt of rice monthly. The Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute (HARTI-in Colombo 7) has informed  that after they conducted their own investigations, they discovered almost 400,000 MT rice volumes as available across Sri Lanka’s retail market system even at this very moment. In addition, 86000 Mt of rice also have been imported and arrived. The government has  even reduced rice import tax from Rs 75 to Rs 5.  Therefore there is really no shortages and the crisis is over. Still, there are supply issues in the market. This is due to some form of planned manipulation of rice market by certain interested parties. To overcome, the government  introduced Maximum Retail Prices (MRPs) for both imported and locally milled rice” said Minister Bathiudeen and added: “Sellers and importers who do not release rice to the consumers or who sell at higher prices are liable. They must display price lists. Imported rice cannot be sold as local rice. In fact, two teams from CAA are specially working on checking up on such switching-a manipulation. Already Consumer Affairs Authority under my Ministry has conducted more than 3000 raids since January 2017 and cases filed on 1200 identified violations from these raids.
By Extraordinary Gazette 2006/52 dated 17 February, the CAA under Minister Bathiudeen, gazetted MRPs of three varieties of rice, separately for both imported and locally milled. Accordingly, Samba (non-keeri and non-Suduru) was priced per kilo at Rs 80 for imported and 90 for locally milled, Raw (Kekulu) priced per kilo at Rs 70 for imported and 78 for locally milled, and Nadu priced per kilo at Rs 72 for imported and 80 for locally milled.