The Government yesterday defended its decision to import 100,000 metric tons of rice, saying it was a temporary move to address the exorbitant prices charged by traders and to protect consumers.
The Cabinet of Ministers at their meeting on Monday night took the decision to import.
“The decision was taken as the rice producers and traders collided to create an artificial shortage by concealing stocks,” Cabinet Co-Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said at the post-Cabinet meeting media briefing yesterday.
As a counter measure, the Trade Ministry decided to use the government-to-government (G2G) import scheme to purchase 100,000 metric tons of samba rice.
“This undue price hike practice by rice producers and traders has compromised public interest. The Government had to resort to imports in the public interest,” he added.
When asked why the Government decided to import rice at a time when foreign reserves are at their lowest levels, the Minister said there were sufficient funds for essential imports.