The Sunday Leader

Artificial Rice Shortage Hits The Market

By Nirmala Kannangara

Due to an artificial rice shortage in the market Rs. 6,000 million has been spent to import 150,000 metric tons of rice to the country since June, K. Palaniandy, President of the Colombo Traders’ Association said.

Certain interested parties are accused for creating an artificial rice shortage in the country, which has cost the nation dearly, according to Palaniandy, who added that this is the first time in five years the country imported rice to overcome a shortage.

“Some do not want to release the rice stocks they have in their mills to the market assuming a severe shortage in the months to come. They are planning to increase their prices when there is a shortage and that is why stocks are not released to the market,” said Palaniandy.

According to Palaniandy, the country needs 30,000 metric tons of rice a month and since enough of stocks are not supplied to the market by the mill owners, the country will have to import more rice in the months to come.

“If the available rice stocks are not released to the market immediately, the country would have to spend several million more,” added Palaniandy. He said that it cost around Rs. 40 to import a kilo of rice and added had the mill owners released their stocks to the market, the country could have saved billions of foreign exchange.

“How can anyone say that the rice shortage is due to the prevailing weather condition? Due to the spell of drought we are now experiencing in many parts of the country, there would be a severe rice shortage after the Yala season. We are currently using the Maha harvest and there was no drought during the Maha season. So how can anyone say that there is a rice shortage in the country now,” claimed Palaniandy.

Meanwhile, the National Organizer, All Ceylon Farmer Federation, Namal Karunaratne too agreed with Palaniandy.

“The government knows that there is no rice shortage in the country but it is the mill owners that have created an artificial shortage in the country. We have seen as to how the government with the help of the security forces got the stock of rice that were stored by wholesale traders removed forcibly when there was an actual rice shortage. But now the same government has failed to instruct the security forces to raid the rice mills and to remove the stocks that are stocked. If the government acted promptly, then the country would have saved several million foreign exchange,” said Karunaratne.

According to Karunaratne, government’s failure purchase paddy was the reason for this artificial shortage in the market.

Meanwhile Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that his ministry has already released Rs. 2,000 million for disaster management work.

“Out of this amount we are purchasing water bowsers and provide drinking water for those who live in drought hit areas. We will also be giving Rs. 6,000 for each farmer after he completes 12 half days work to clean the dried up tanks and remove the excess earth in it. We have also placed orders with four companies to supply water bowsers immediately to send to the drought hit areas,” Amaraweera said.



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