Sri Lanka rice price controls temporary: minister

April 20, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s price controls are temporary, until foreign rice stocks arrive at the end of the month and prices fall towards ceilings imposed by the government, a senior minister said. “Rangoon rice will arrive in Sri Lanka before the end of the month, then prices will fall,” consumer affairs minister Bandula Gunewardene told LBO.

“We will keep price controls until people release stocks and prices fall to reasonable levels.”

He said profiteers who never bought rice from farmers were now buying up paddy in the hope of making a quick buck.

“The traditional millers and people involved in the rice trade did this business without any problem all this time, now even people who deal in scrap metal are buying paddy,” Gunewardene said.

“Farmers are also keeping paddy in the hope of selling at a higher price later.”

But Sri Lanka’s rice prices have been moving up as part of an international commodity boom that has seen rice, wheat, soybean, precious metals, industrial metals, minerals and energy rising in a fashion not seen since the early 1970’s.

Gunewardene who slapped price controls through a consumer watchdog has also threatened to unleash the armed forces on