July 15, Colombo: The four-member team officials visited Pakistan and Myanmar to hold discussions to purchase rice has returned to Colombo on Friday with agreements to immediately purchase 55,000 metric tons of rice from the two countries at government to government level.
"After this successful tour, it is clear that there will be no more rice shortages in the domestic markets-or even any likelihood of it. Some elements in the market are trying to create an artificial shortage," Minister Industry and Commerce Bathiudeen said.
The team of officials that flew out on July 7 was led by Secretary of Ministry of Chinthaka Lokuhetti, and two officials from the Finance Ministry and a food technologist from ITI.
According to an official who returned, Pakistan has agreed to supply 25,000 MT immediately. No final price has been quoted yet but once the final price is agreed, the stocks will be shipped from Pakistan in early August. Pakistan is also ready to supply some more rice quantity by September.
Myanmar is ready to supply another 30,000 MT immediately and its final price too, to be agreed.
According to the officials who returned, the Sri Lankan team was given a very warm welcome at both destinations, was promptly attended and samples were then given. The rice samples tested in Pakistan were already milled and in good quality. Myanmar rice is also of good quality - only that it requires to be re-milled and Myanmar is ever ready to mill them before shipping to Colombo.
Lankan officials and food technologist also performed their own cooking tests on the samples given to them at both destinations and say that the quality and taste to be 'very good'.
Sri Lankan officials also bargained for lower prices than the prices first quoted by both Pakistan and Myanmar officials. Officials of both countries agreed that such bargaining is acceptable and said shall submit Sri Lanka's bargained price quotes to their respective Cabinets (of Ministers) for approval, to complete the government to government sales.
Minister Bathiudeen last month held discussions with the envoys of Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan on finding a supplier of rice to Sri Lanka.
The Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) under the minister will be the focal point for the effort.