In order to sell rice to consumers at a controlled rate as directed by the Sri Lankan government, Small and Medium Scale Rice Mill Owners’ Association made a request to the Sri Lankan Finance Ministry, to release 67,000 metric tons of paddies in store at the Paddy Marketing Board. The prices for Samba variety have been fixed at the maximum limit of 40 rupees/kg and Nadu at 38 rupees/kg. The convener of the association said, “The paddy should be issued as soon as possible at the prices we have requested (Samba at 40 rupees or less per kilogram and Nadu at 38 rupees or less) to the small and medium scale rice mill owners so that they could issue it to the consumer as rice.” He further added that, “As per my knowledge the paper work in this regard is already done, so the Treasury needs to release the funds, the sooner the millers get it the sooner it can be put to the market at the government controlled price.”
The Department of Agriculture said only 250,000 hectares were cultivated during the last Maha Season, when 800,000 hectares are cultivated annually. As Sri Lanka is facing rice shortage this season, the Island’s Consumer Affairs Authority issued controlled prices of 80 rupees for a kilogram of Samba rice, 72 rupees for Nadu and 70 for Kekulu, last week. But the millers wanted a price of 90 rupees for Samba, 87 rupees for kilo of Nadu, and 80 for Red Raw. Meanwhile Chairman of the All Ceylon Peasants’ Federation, Namal Karunaratne last month complained that paddy held by the government and stored at the storage facility in Welikanda is being distributed by demanding commissions. The paddy is being transported back and forth, all on commissions, he alleged at a recent press conference. The finance ministry had earlier cut the import tax on rice to 5 rupees a kilo from 15 rupees allowing foreign rice to come in to avoid a rice shortage in the country.