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Sri Lanka private traders should import rice fast to lower prices: Ravi

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake urged private traders to import rice quickly after import taxes were slashed to help boost supplies after a rice crop failed.

"You can bring rice from India for Rs50 and sell at Rs65," Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told reporters on Thursday.

Karunanayake said taxes were cut last Friday and it took only "about 4 days" for rice to land in Sri Lanka.

Import taxes were cut to Rs5 a kilo for raw white rice, nadu and samba varieties.

He said about 23,000 metric tonnes of rice had already arrived in the country. "But prices have not come down for the consumer yet," Karunanayake said. "We want the benefit to be passed down quickly."

He also urged large millers who had stocks to sell, so that prices fall. Sri Lanka keeps import taxes high to give big profits to millers and persuade farmers grow rice in marginal or low-yielding land.

Farmers are also given fertilizer subsidies.

Wheat flour is also taxed to force people to eat more rice.  (Colombo/Feb02/2017)

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