ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s market economy has been shattered by price controls on eggs, which has led to empty shelves and progressive destruction of the layer chicken farms, opposition legislator Rohini Kumari Wijerathna said.
“The trade ministry has issued a gazette with a price control on eggs at 43 rupees,” Wijerathna told parliament.
“Now there are no eggs in shops. If you sell above 50 rupee they are caught. The Department of Animal Production says the production cost of eggs is 49 rupees.
“So the poultry industry is being destroyed. If this continues by next March the industry will be badly hit.”
Poultry farmers say they are already having problems with feed which is reducing the number of eggs hens are laying. With chicken meat prices around 1,400 rupees, farmers are killing layers for meat and are not keen on starting a new batch, industry officials have warned.
Sri Lanka’s Consumer Affairs Authority has created shortages and blackmarkets in several consumer products during the Coronavirus and currency crises as well as earlier and is a threat to the economy and small businesses, according to critics.
“People says Ranil Wickremesinghe is the Uncle of the Free Market (Ni-der-hus arr-thi-ker-yay barp-par). The open economy is the policy of the country, but to put price controls on eggs there is a Trade Minister.
“Ranil Wickremesinghe and price controls do not mix. So there is no coherence.
“The economic policy articulated by the President cannot be comprehended by the Trade Ministry or the Agriculture Ministry.
“The are not at level where they can understand what the President is saying. I am asking according to what doctrine are these price controls being imposed?
“I have no dispute about the post 1977 open economy, but his budget policies have to implemented by the same people who took the country in the reverse direction.
Classical economists have pointed out that the control of business, and the loss of economic freedoms are part of an authoritarian system of government that seeks to control citizens at every turn, usually with disastrous consequences.
“It is true that the officeholders are no longer the servants of the citizenry but irresponsible and arbitrary masters and tyrants,” explained economist and philosopher Ludwig von Mises.
“But this is not the fault of bureaucracy. It is the outcome of the new system of government which restricts the individual’s freedom to manage his own affairs and assigns more and more tasks to the government.
“The culprit is not the bureaucrat but the political system. And the sovereign people is still free to discard this system.
“It is further true that bureaucracy is imbued with an implacable hatred of private business and free enterprise. But the supporters of the system consider precisely this the most laudable feature of their attitude.
“Far from being ashamed of their anti-business policies, they are proud of them. They aim at full control of business by the government and see in every businessman who wants to evade this control a public enemy.” (Colombo/Nov18/2022)