Farmers ask President to prevent artificial rice shortages
ECONOMYNEXT – On the campaign trail in Polonnaruwa President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been asked by local farmers not to allow “intermediaries” to create artificial shortages of rice in the market.
A press statement issued by the President’s Office said that the farmers he met at the Siripura Provincial Government Grounds after a rally had said that there had been a bumper harvest in the last season, therefore, there was no way there could be a shortage.
The President was campaigning yesterday July 5, to support candidates of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna in the area for the August Parliamentary elections.
The government was hit by high prices of rice almost immediately after the President was elected in November.
This was due to a shortage that occurred in the market along with the festive season.
The release said that the President Rajapaksa told the farmers that after the government assumed office, it had begun rehabilitating paddy storage facilities and built an efficient paddy purchasing process.
The President further said that the government has planned to act in a manner that would not cause any problem to the paddy farmers.
The rice trade in Sri Lanka is controlled by a handful of big time millers, and the President has met and negotiated with them.
When President Rajapaksa campaigned with former President Maithripala Sirisena at Deepa Uyana, he was seen chatting with Dudley Sirisena one of the biggest of the rice millers.
Dudley is the younger brother of the former President.
Human-elephant conflict and unemployment are among the biggest problems faced by the people living in the Polonnaruwa District. Residents also requested the President to take swift actions to solve these issues.
A set of proposals seeking redress for their problems was handed over to President Rajapaksa by Buddhist Monks of the area, the release added.
The President also called for a report on the status of the schools in the district after he was informed that many schools were facing a shortage of teachers. (Colombo, July 6, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana