Aug 18, Colombo: Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Dr. Harsha De Silva says a formal investigation is underway into the discarding of 890 metric tons of potatoes purchased from the upcountry farmers during the 52-day unconstitutional government in 2018.
The 890 metric tons of potatoes bought by the state from the farmers at a cost of over Rs. 83 million have been buried without distributing to the consumer when the illegally appointed government ruled for 52 days from 26 October 2018.
The stock of potatoes has been purchased by the Sri Lanka Consumer Co-operative Society from the farmers.
The Minister said that the stock of potatoes had decayed due to the failure to store it properly and take necessary steps to distribute the stock to the consumers in time. Measures have been taken then to bury the rotted stock of potatoes
The 52-day illegal government, claiming there is an excess of potato production by upcountry farmers, has used Rs. 188 million of Ministry of Trade & Commerce money to purchase 2000 metric tons of potatoes. The total cost to purchase the potatoes exceeds Rs. 200 million, according to the Minister Dr. de Silva.
While there is still a balance of nearly Rs. 70 million to be paid for the farmers for the potatoes, as a result of the negligence Sri Lanka Consumer Co-operative Societies' Federation has also reportedly incurred a loss of over Rs. 100 million.
The Minister pointed out that it is a massive crime to spend such a large amount of public money to buy 890 tons of potatoes, which has a huge consumer demand in the local market, and later discard the stock.
The Minister further stated that a report on the crisis has been submitted to the Committee on Cost of Living and legal action will be taken in this regard.