Selling Commodities at prices beyond the controlled price will be strictly dealt with. Fine increased up to one lakh- Minister Bandula Gunawardene.
Dried Nadu at Rs.50
Dried Samba at Rs.52
Moisture paddy at Rs.44
A joint media conference was held today (30) at the Ministry of Agriculture with the participation of Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardena at which both Ministers explained Government’s future plans on paddy purchasing during Yala Season, measures taken to control the price of rice and the current issue of fertilizer “The Cabinet has approved 75 amendments including the increase of fine from Rs. 2500 up to Rs.one lakh in the event of selling commodities beyond the government’s controlled price all aimed at protecting the consumer. Those amendments are to be passed in Parliament soon” stated both Ministers.
Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said “5 lakh of hactares have been brought under paddy cultivation in Yala season and anticipated harvest is 2,250,000 metric Tons. Purchasing of Yala season paddy harvest commence at PMB stores from tomorrow throughout the island at guaranteed price – Dried Nadu at Rs.50/- , Dried Samba at Rs.52/- and moisture paddy at Rs.44/-. Paddy purchased in Maha season were milled to rice and distributed through CWE and Co-operative outlets and Super Markets at reasonable prices during 03 months from the Sinhala Tamil New Year Festival. Similarly Yala Season paddy harvest too will be made available to consumers in the same way. “Guaranteed price to farmer and reasonable price to consumer” is our policy of the Government”. Certain traders buy Keeri Samba paddy at Rs.80/- per 1 kg and sell rice at Rs.225/- per 1 kg whereby receiving excessive profit also exploiting the consumer. That is why the Minister Bandula Gunawardene introduced new amendments including the increasing of fine from Rs.2800 up to Rs. 01 lakh. 08 lakh of hectares were cultivated with paddy during Maha season and 05 lakhs of hectares in Yala season annually. Overall harvest exceeds the consumption need. Shortage is created due to hoarding of rice. That is the nature of rice Mafia bent on buying at low price and selling at higher price depriving the people of their right to eat rice. What for a Government if the price of rice is controlled by Rice Mafia. So the fine has been increased in order to maintain the price of rice at reasonable level. Hence I appreciate the bold decision of the Minister Bandula Gunawardena.
It’s a people’s victory. Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa and JVPers are instigating farmers to demand chemical fertilizer instead of organic fertilizer, which means giving poison to farmers. They are against the move of importing rice and controlling the price. Namal Karunarathna wants rice Mafia to increase the price of rice at their whims and fancies. The people in due course will decide on which side the JVP stand on the people’s side or on the side of multinational companies or rice traders. It is true that certain areas are experiencing 5% fertilizing shortage which we are addressing at present. Subsidized fertilizer distribution for Yala season has been completed 100% successfully. State fertilizer companies have sufficient stock of fertilizer for vegetable cultivation which are being distributed at present through Agrarian Services Centre network. While all are going on smoothly, farmers in the opposition who are against the Government are demanding fertilizer in streets. The opposition seems trying to gain power even upon a dead body of a farmer. Whenever decisions on matters of national importance were taken, both the UNP and the JVP have misled the people. The JVP once burned down Agrarian Services Centres are now agitating in front of them. The Government is not prepared to take back the step put forward towards establishing eco- friendly organic farming. Farmers are not demanding chemical fertilizer. They want only fertilizer. Therefore, the Government is ready to provide them with all organic fertilizer requirements, necessary funds, assistance, knowledge, technology etc. to their satisfaction. This government is responsible for ensuring the welfare of the farmer community.
Consumer Affairs minister, Bandula Gunawardena stated, rice is important and essential commodity for people fighting for survival. Throughout the history injustice were caused to them Rice we got through the Ministry of Agriculture were distributed through CWE and Co- operative outlets during the past 03 month period. The same will be done in the future as well. Some trade sell rice at Rs.130 per 1kg. Over thousand cases have been field against selling commodities at exorbitant prices. Rs.2500 fines are paid by rice traders themselves who are bent on making profit. That is why the cabinet has approved 75 amendments to the consumer protection Act.
If any trader is found having sold commodities at a higher price over the government controlled price the fine is Rs. One lakh. All those amendments will be got passed in parliament soon. We have also taken measurements to maintain buffer stocks to face any future shortage of rice. Further rice importation is being looked in to by a Procurement Committee consisting of Secretaries of the Ministries of Trade and Consumer Affairs, Finance, Agriculture and technology. Various kinds of Irregularities have been experiencing in the importation of rice. Large number of court cases are still pending in this regard. I am not prepared to put my soul in to that garbage dustbin. That is why I appointed a procurement committee of high-ranking officials to ensure transparency of rice importation on international competitive bidding. Accordingly, a rice importer has to pay a sum of 500 US Dollars to obtain a tender application. We are going to impose controlled prices in respect of all varieties of rice – kakulu, Nadu, Samba and Keeri Samba. The Ministry of Agriculture will take joint measures to provide people with rice out reasonable price without any shortage.