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* Sri Lanka consumer protection agency warns errant traders hoarding milk powder
Sun, Dec 8, 2013, 09:09 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 08, Colombo: Following the discovery of huge stocks of milk powder hidden in warehouses, Sri Lanka's consumer protection agency, Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) warned to take stern legal action against the hoarders.

The Authority says the hoarders are stashing the stocks of milk powder without releasing to the market to create an artificial shortage and compel a price hike.

The CAA during a raid on Thursday found 257,658 of 400-gram Nespray milk powder packets worth Rs. 80 million in a private warehouse in Seeduwa. The finding came a day after the CAA investigators found 13.5 tonnes of milk powder stocks hidden at a state-owned Lanka Milk Foods (CWE) factory in Welisara.

The distributors of Nespray milk powder produced by Nestlé Lanka have told The Nation that it was the normal procedure to store the milk powder between production and distribution and the stocks are released upon demand. The distributors have claimed that there was no shortage of milk powder in the market at the time but The Nation has found that the market shelves were empty of Nespray milk powder.

The Consumer Protection Authority informs the public that no decision has been taken to increase the price of milk powder and there could be no shortage of milk powder in the market.

The Director General of the Authority J M A Douglas told state-run radio that 5 companies have submitted requests to the Authority for a price hike of milk powder.

He said action will be taken on the requests after a wide investigation on global prices and analyzing the overhead expenses being borne by the companies.

The official warned that raids on trade establishments that hoard, overprice and sell unsuitable and outdated food items during the festive season will be intensified.

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