Sept 28, Colombo: President Maithripala Sirisena held a special discussion at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday with ministers and senior officials regarding the prices of the essential food items.
During the meeting it was revealed that the traders in the private sector decide the prices in order to keep huge profit when importing rice into the country and the President instructed the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen to hold discussion with the relevant parties to reduce the prices of rice.
The President gave instructions to import 500,000 metric tons of rice in the next few months, without considering the prices at the international market. The President further instructed to reduce the prices of all types of rice selling at the Lanka Sathosa stores from tomorrow.
Discussions focused on the price increase of the big onions and the President pointed out though 1kg of big onions and potatoes are imported for a price like Rs. 65.00, the consumers have to pay a higher price due to the strategies of the sellers to make big profits.
He directed the Consumer Affairs Authority to control the prices of these goods. He also directed them to take actions to reduce prices of big onions and potatoes at Sathosa outlets.
President Sirisena directed the Coconut Cultivation Board to work over the price reduction of coconuts, sold in the markets. He advised them to take actions to sell coconuts to the consumers directly, without any middlemen.
The President said although the proper tender procedures should be observed in importing of essential goods, the officials should not have an unwanted fear that they will have to face problems. He directed them to act efficiently by following proper procedures.
He also emphasized that a committee consisting of officials from Ministries of Commerce and Agriculture to gather weekly and decide the prices of essential goods.
He emphasized that the prices of essential goods must not be increased and the decisions taken regarding the prices must be implemented directly with immediate effect.
Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Rishad Bathiudeen, Mahinda Amaraweera, Deputy Ministers Sujeewa Senasinghe and Eran Wickramaratne were among those who joined this discussion.