The Chairman of leading rice mill owner Araliya Rice, Dudley Sirisena, yesterday promised to maintain the bulk rice price at Rs. 90 and reduce prices after the third week of February, offsetting fears of a shortage.
President Maithripala Sirisena’s sibling, speaking on behalf of all mill owners in the country, gave a personal guarantee that he would ensure that prices did not further escalate. “Although there is no rule, we have taken a decision to not allow further price escalation. If any miller sells at a higher price don’t buy, and please get in touch with me,” he said.
Nadu rice will be sold at Rs. 90, Samba at Rs. 95 and Kiri Samba at Rs. 125 until 20 February. Sirisena promised a minimum price revision of Rs. 5 on all types of rice immediately after anticipating that stocks from the Jaffna and Ampara production would reach the market by then.
He also appealed to the Government to give a guaranteed price for paddy purchases during the seasons, claiming that the low rice prices prevailing in the market may influence a price drop for paddy as well. Sirisena also spoke positively about the measures taken by the Government to control the rice prices and the shortage in the country since his outburst against Rural Economic Affairs Minister P. Harrison three weeks ago.
Sirisena criticised the Minister and accused him of creating an artificial rice shortage, claiming that the crisis could be averted by the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) releasing its stocks to mill owners in a systematic way. Sirisena was not forthcoming with his opinion of the Government’s move to import rice but only claimed that the announcement caused a substantial price increase of $ 170 in the Indian rice market in anticipation of Sri Lankan order.
He accused the Minister of selling paddy stored by the PMB only to mill owners of his choice and criticised the Government’s decision to import rice.