Decision on price hike tomorrow

  • CAA amendments hike fines

By Yoshitha Perera

The final decision to increase the prices of several essential commodities such as rice, wheat flour, milk powder, gas, and cement, would be taken after the cabinet meeting tomorrow (27), State Minister of Co-operative Services, Marketing Development, and Consumer Protection Lasantha Alagiyawanna said.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, Alagiyawanna said that during the meeting with the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Cost of Living last Friday (24), they had not reached a final agreement on the price increases of the above-mentioned commodities.

“We have to finalise the decision to move for a price hike on several commodities as requested by the importers and local companies. However, the final decision will be made after the cabinet meeting on Monday,” Alagiyawanna said.

He further explained that during Friday’s meeting, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had directed the officials to immediately release the consignments of essential goods stockpiled at the ports.

“At the meeting, Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa also notified us to ensure that the released essential goods were distributed to the consumers through Sathosa and essential goods importers,” the State Minister said.

As per reports in the media, the proposed price revisions that were agreed on at the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Cost of Living meeting were that 1 kg of milk power would be increased by Rs. 200, 1 kg of wheat flour by Rs. 10, a bag of cement by Rs. 50, and that a 12.5 kg cylinder of LP gas would be increased by Rs. 550.

Meanwhile, amendments to the Consumer Affairs Authority Act No. 9 of 2003, to increase fines for the sale of goods beyond the maximum retail price (MRP), were passed unanimously in Parliament last week.

Accordingly, the minimum fine charged from an individual or a joint venture for a first-time offence was increased from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 100,000.

The minimum fine charged from a private company for a first-time offence was increased from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 500,000.

Individual businesses and joint ventures will be fined a minimum of Rs. 1 million for a subsequent offence, whereas the fine was previously Rs. 20,000.

The minimum fine for private companies for a subsequent offence was also increased from Rs. 200,000 to Rs. 10 million.