Essential food supply: Importers seek extension to open accounts

  • Buffer stocks drop

By Asiri Fernando

Importers of essential foods have sought a meeting with Government officials this week to request an extension of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) open account facility for imports that will come to an end this month, The Sunday Morning learns.

According to Essential Food Importers’ and Traders’ Association (EFITA) Spokesperson Nihal Seneviratne, the importers have requested a meeting with Minister of Trade Nalin Fernando in this regard.

“The open account facility has been helpful and several importers have used it to import listed essential food items and address the food shortage issues to a certain extent. However, the facility will end this month [August] and we have been in touch with the Minister of Trade and asked for a meeting to request an extension,” Seneviratne told The Sunday Morning.

He said importers also planned to meet with other State officials to discuss the matter.

The Ministry acknowledged that it had received a request for a meeting, but would not comment further. 

A senior official at the Ministry told The Sunday Morning that the facility had proved successful and effected a reduction in the price of commodities such as dhal. 

However, the official said that the CBSL was reluctant to extend the facility in line with its policies.

Attempts to contact Minister Nalin Fernando proved futile.

Seneviratne also expressed concern that buffer stocks had depleted and warned that not maintaining a buffer stock during crisis times was ill-advised.