Rice millers undecided on govt. bond
- Emphasis on large-scale mill owners
- Small/medium-scale millers monitor situ
- Paddy to be purchased at Rs. 50-52 a kilo: Govt.
BY Maheesha Mudugamuwa
Rice mill owners are yet to sign the bond with the Government, as suggested by the Agriculture Ministry recently, to agree to purchase paddy at a certified price in order to ensure that rice prices would not be unnecessarily increased during the course of the year, The Sunday Morning learnt.
Accordingly, the mill owners are still studying the suggested bond while waiting for the government gazette that would be issued for the certified prices.
This has been discussed at a meeting held recently between the mill owners and Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage.
However, The Sunday Morning learnt that the meeting was focused on the large-scale mill owners rather than small and medium-scale mill owners. Furthermore, the large-scale mill owners too have not yet agreed to or signed any bond with the Government concerning purchasing paddy at a stipulated price.
Speaking to The Sunday Morning, All-Ceylon Small and Medium-Scale Rice Mill Owners Association President B.K. Ranjith said that the rice price was controlled by the large-scale mill owners and that the small and medium-scale mill owners were following the prices in the market.
“We have no controlling power. Therefore, this bond is not that connected to us. We are waiting for the gazette. Not even the large-scale mill owners have signed it yet,” he added.
Nevertheless, Aluthgamage told Parliament last week that according to the said agreement, mill owners would purchase a kilogramme of paddy within the price range of Rs. 50-52.
He said that mill owners would not increase the guaranteed price, adding that necessary action would be taken against them if they attempted to increase the selling price of rice.
“The price of a kilo of nadu is around Rs. 120 at the moment, samba costs Rs. 150, and keeri samba is around Rs. 220. We need to control this price but the main reason for this increase is the low fines imposed, which the mill owners have taken for granted. But this will not take place in the future. Therefore, paddy prices and rice prices would be decided only by the Government and not by rice millers. If someone tries to sell rice at a higher price, we would not hesitate to punish them,” Aluthgamage explained.
According to the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA), the current maximum retail prices of several rice varieties, as introduced last year, including for keeri samba, white and red samba, both steamed and boiled (excluding suduru samba), white and red raw samba, white and red nadu, both steamed and boiled (excluding mottai karuppan and attakkari), and white and red raw rice are Rs. 125, Rs. 90, Rs. 90, Rs. 90, and Rs. 85 per kilogramme, respectively.