Sri Lanka to raise import tariffs for wheat to prop up rice prices

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

May 30, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka plans to raise import tariffs on wheat to encourage paddy sales and shore up prices, treasury secretary P B Jayasundara said Tuesday. The government recently slapped a 15 percent import duty on wheat flour and six-percent duty on imports of wheat grain.

“We are planning a further upward revision on both of these because there is a need to keep rice prices at reasonable level and encourage more rice floor based consumption,” Jayasundara told reporters.

Wheat prices have to be raised by about 2-3 rupees a kilo, Jayasundara said to keep rice prices at current levels of between 20-25 rupees a kilo.

The government is expecting a successful Yala paddy harvest this year and more stocks of rice to flood the local market.

“We will revise duties based on the availability of rice in the market, if we observe that rice prices are going down further, and then we will increase taxes at the appropriate time,” he said.

The government says it is trying to export pilot shipments of about 500-1,000 metric tones of rice to countries like the Maldives

Meanwhile, the treasury approved 2.5 billion rupees to district secretariat