Sri Lanka has opened immediate talks with three countries on 22 June to procure a rice tranche to stabilize its domestic markets.
“We are looking for par-boiled (Nadu) and Samba categories now” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 22 June in Colombo. Minister Bathiudeen, joined by Secretary of Ministry of Industry and Commerce Chinthana Lokuhetti and Director General of Finance Ministry PMB Atapattu, was addressing HE Ambassador Designate of Thailand to Sri Lanka Mrs Chulamanee Chartsuwan, HE Ambassador of Indonesia to Sri Lanka Gusti Ngurah Ardiyasa and Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan Dr. Sarfraz Ahmad Khan Sipra on the afternoon of 22 June at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
“I invited you here on the directive of HE the President Maithripala Sirisena who aims to strengthen our domestic rice supply. At this week’s Cabinet meeting, the concerned HE President instructed me to open Government to Government level talks with you for speedy procurement of rice for our domestic market, the reason for inviting you here immediately” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen addressing HE Ambassadors, and added: “We note with satisfaction of the continued friendly relations and surging trade we have been having with your nations over the years. At this time, our call is different. We are keen to procure rice for Sri Lanka from you through a Government to Government process, but are open for your private sectors’ support as well if necessary. The Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) under me will be the focal point for this effort and will be in contact with you continuously. After one of you are picked as the supplier of this volume, based on a transparent international procurement process, our expert team consisting of my officials, food technologists, and rice experts will arrive in your country to inspect and certify the entire stock before it would be shipped to Colombo. We are looking for par-boiled (Nadu) and Samba categories at this moment. We can start with 300,000 MT. Even if Sri Lanka would choose one of you as the supplier in this case and leave the others, we are still eagerly looking forward to enhance bilateral trade with all of you-in many other ways.”
All the HE Ambassadors present pledged immediate support to Minister Bathiudeen and HE President’s efforts to procure the rice tranche. They also clarified the processes of Government to Government procurement at a time like this in their respective nations to Minister Bathiudeen and Secretary Lokuhetti. The HE Ambassadors from Indonesia and Pakistan even came forward to say that despite the Eid Ul Fitr holidays starting this Saturday 24 June (which continues for a few days) in their countries, they shall immediately get in touch with their respective governments as soon as Sri Lanka sends its bidding details and gives them the go-ahead.
Minister Bathiudeen and the HE Ambassadors also delved in to other aspects of future bilateral cooperation at the 22 June meet.