The monthly relief package worth Rs 3,600 will include rice, wheat flour, sugar, dried fish and sprats among other food items. The monthly food package programme is to meet needs of low income groups affected by food price rises.
Heavy rains experienced over the past few months have had an impact on the prices of rice and other vegetables in the market.
The previous Government without releasing the existing rice stocks in stores to the market had allowed rice imports to the country. As a result, stocks in stores are now about to expire and we cannot release them for human consumption anymore.
“We have to give them as animal fodder at low prices. There is about 350,000 kgs of locally produced rice in stores, but the stocks will expire in February next year.
“This situation has also caused an increase in rice prices. An investigation has now begun to find out who was responsible for this waste”.State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told a news conference that a team of UNP MPs, who were part of the previous Government that had sanctioned rice imports in 2017, had visited the Narahenpita Dedicated Economic Centre making comments on the controlled rice prices.
“They have said that the rice sold at Rs. 98 per 1kg is of low quality. The sellers complained that those remarks were a blow to their trade,” he added. Noting that the Government has already intervened to control the prices of food in the retail market in the festive season, the State Minister pointed out that the wholesale prices of minor export crops such as cinnamon, pepper, ‘karunka’ (dried arecanut) and cloves had increased considerably following the Government’s decision to ban importing them for re-exports.