No decision on new rice mills

The Government has not yet decided to set up new rice mills, because the country already has enough rice mills in operation, State Minister of Internal Trade and Consumer Welfare Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said.

“Some of the rice millers were facing difficulties due to the bank loans they had obtained to maintain their businesses. The Government has requested the banks not to auction those rice mills which have not been able to settle their loans.”

The price point of any product is determined by the supply and demand of said product, Yapa said.

“If we have enough supply the prices will stabilise. Unfortunately, what we have not been able to verify is the availability of paddy stocks in storage and whether the available stocks are sufficient to last till the next harvesting season.”

The Ministry of Agriculture along with the Ministry of Internal Trade is planning to devise a system to monitor paddy stocks that are available in storage and whether there are sufficient paddy stocks to supply the demand, the Minister further stated. He added that the change of consumer patterns is also affecting the demand for certain varieties of rice.

“At the moment we have access to a certain amount of stocks in Sathosa and we are releasing that to the market at a reasonable price to maintain the price points on stocks that are in short supply.”

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa held a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture Chamal Rajapaksa to ensure that there is sufficient paddy stocks at hand, so that the country does not have to import rice stocks at the moment. Meanwhile, Environment, Wildlife, Land, and Lands Development Minister S.M. Chandrasena had said the Government was looking at setting up state-owned rice mills to break the monopoly of private rice mill owners.

– Sarah Hannan