ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s newly appointed Commissioner General of Essential Services and the price control agency had seized stock of rice from large millers which will be distributed through a network of state-run retail stores, the President’s office said.
Stocks owned by Nipuna, Lathpandura, Araliya, Hiru, New Rathna and Suriya mills in the Polonnaruwa district were seized.
The seizures were under “the direct supervision of the Commissioner General of Essential Services Major General Senarath Niwunhella and the Chairman of the Consumer Affairs Authority.”
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last week placed the country under emergency law and appointed the Major General as the essential services chief to carry out a series of regulations.
Owners of New Rathna rice mill, raised objections and obstructed the duties of the officials as their property was seized, the statement said.
The rice stocks will be transported to state-run Sathosa retail shops, where they will be sold at controlled prices.
“The Government’s aim is to speedily provide these rice stocks to the consumers,” the statement said.
Major General Niwunhella had a meeting with the owners of the rice mills to release stocks.
“However, since they have not taken any action as agreed, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has given instructions to Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardane, the Commissioner General of Essential Services and the Chairman of the Consumer Affairs Authority to seize the rice stocks and release them to the market,” the statement said.
Sri Lanka has been printing large volumes of money creating foreign exchange shortages leading to rationing of dollars by banks and difficulties and delays in paying for imports.
Sri Lanka’s rice millers have strong political connections and have been earning high import-subsitution profits which economists call ‘rents’ for years under cover of import taxes or import bans. (Colombo/Sept08/2021)