Dec 14, Colombo: The government has decided to continue import rice and other essential items so that consumers can obtain them at affordable prices during the forthcoming holiday seasons.
Accordingly the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Economic Management chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has taken a decision to import 100,000 metric tons of rice monthly until the Sinhala Tamil New Year season.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry is due to issue a projection of the paddy harvest of 2017/18 Maha and 2018 Yala harvest and according to the projected harvest, the government will import rice 100,000 metric tons of rice per month until the paddy harvest reaches the market in sufficient quantities.
Sri Lanka's annular rice requirement is about 2.4 million metric tons and due to the shortage of paddy harvest this year, 670,000 metric tons of rice, which is about 30 percent of the rice requirement, have been imported.
The cabinet subcommittee has also decided to allow any commercial institution to import rice in order to provide sufficient rice until the Sinhala Tamil New year season next year.
Accordingly, the duration of the 25 cents per kilo special commodity levy imposed on rice has been extended to 31 march 2018.
It was also decided to take measures to provide essential food items such as dhal, canned fish, big onions, potatoes, sugar and sprats to consumers without any shortages.
Importers have promised the government that they will sell those materials at the import price. The government has agreed to provide relief to the importers for the extra expenses they would incur in importing and storing the items.
Meanwhile, as an alternative to the demand for coconut, the coconut milk producers and manufacturers have been permitted to import coconut flesh free of import taxes.
Relevant institutions have been instructed to provide the necessary approval to get the coconut flesh imports cleared from the harbor within a day.