Sri Lanka decentralises paddy purchases
EconomyNext – Sri Lanka has decided to decentralise government buying of paddy from rice farmers, ending a monopoly by the state-owned Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) owing to alleged corruption.
The government also wants to help revive small rice mill owners and provide new storage methods for the latest harvest.
It expects around 200,000 metric tonnes of paddy harvest which has just begun with a surplus of ‘Nadu’ rice this season, a Ministry of Industry & Commerce statement said.
The government has allocated 10 billion rupees to buy paddy.
“We want to break the monopoly affecting the entire rice sector of Sri Lanka. From now onwards we will not allocate money to the Paddy Marketing Board to buy paddy," Minister of Food Security Gamini Jayawickrama Perera was quoted as saying.
He said this was because "the PMB has become corrupt”.
Future paddy purchases will be made through the 25 District Secretariats.
He said the government will monitor both local rice prices and imports and appoint ‘Price Control Officers’ for every electorate to check whether shops and sellers sold according to the government’s price list and look into shortages.
Perera said the government was keen on reviving rice mills that have been closed most of which are owned by small business people.
"We have been told that in some rice milling areas that 90 percent of the mills have been closed due to the strict monopolistic control exercised by the former government which gave the permission to only selected individuals or mills."
To overcome shortage of warehouses, the government will call tenders for containers as temporary warehousing.
In 2012/13, Sri Lanka’s total annual rice production was reported at 2.7 million tonnes.