Rice millers call for release of govt stock to maintain price control

Feb 14, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Small and Medium Scale Rice Mill Owners’ Association says if they are to sell rice to consumers at a controlled price the government needs to release 67,000 metric tons of paddy in store at the Paddy Marketing board.

This request was made at a meeting held with Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake yesterday, Nisantha Attanayake, its convener told Lanka Business Online.

“The paddy should be issued as soon as possible at the prices we have requested (Samba at 40 rupees or less per kilogram and Nadu at 38 rupees or less) to the small and medium scale rice mill owners so that they could issue it to the consumer as rice,” he said.

“As per my knowledge the paper work in this regard is already done – so the Treasury needs to release the funds – the sooner the millers get it the sooner it can be put to the market at the government controlled price.”

Sri Lanka’s Consumer Affairs Authority issued controlled prices of 80 rupees for a kilogram of Samba rice, 72 rupees for Nadu and 70 for Kekulu, last week.

According to authorities the island is facing a rice shortage.

The Department of Agriculture said only 250,000 hectares were cultivated during the last Maha Season, when 800,000 hectares are cultivated annually.

The millers wanted a price of 90 rupees for Samba, 87 rupees for kilo of Nadu, and 80 for Red Raw.

Meanwhile Chairman of the All Ceylon Peasants’ Federation, Namal Karunaratne last month alleged that paddy held by the government and stored at the storage facility in Welikanda is being distributed based on commissions.

The paddy is being transported back and forth, all on commissions, he charged at a recent press conference.

The finance ministry cut the import tax on rice to 5 rupees a kilo from 15 rupees allowing foreign rice to come in to avoid a rice shortage in the country.