- Committee on Public Finance Chair says local paddy farmer has to logically analyse situation to give a fair price on whilst consumer needs to have quality rice at reasonable price
- Committee stresses officials must be able to make decisions that protect paddy farmer and consumer
- As per data, Imports and Exports Controller General says Yala harvest is likely to be only two-thirds as compared to last year
- Committee approves to submit COPF report to Parliament on extent to which Appropriation Bill is in line with Govt. policies in accordance with Standing Orders
Members of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) recommended that if the import ban on rice, which was enforced last April, is to be allowed again, it should be done only after a proper forecast of the forthcoming Yala season.
COPF Chairman Anura Priyadharshana Yapa pointed out that under the prevailing special circumstances, the local paddy farmer has to logically analyse the situation and make predictions in order to give a fair price for his harvest, as well as to enable the consumer to consume quality rice at a reasonable price.
Replying to this, the Imports and Exports Controller General revealed that according to the available data, the expected Yala harvest is likely to be only two-thirds as compared to last year.
MP Nalin Fernando also said to the Committee that by allowing the importation of rice without a licence, the business community would be tempted to import more rice than it is required for local consumption. Hence, he suggested the Finance Ministry should intervene to prevent the local farmer from facing difficulties.
He also pointed out to the officials of the Finance Ministry that it is important to have rice in the local market that can be bought at a lower price by the citizens of all economic levels as compared to India.
It was emphasised at the COPF to obtain approval for an Extraordinary Gazette Notification permitting the importation of Kekulu, Nadu, Samba and other types of rice as per the order of the Finance Minister.
MP Dr. Harsha de Silva stated that officials need to investigate the macro impact of such orders given without a correct and logical assessment.
In addition, the Committee approved to submit to Parliament the report of the COPF on the extent to which the Appropriation Bill is in line with Government policies in accordance with the Standing Orders of Parliament as soon as possible.
The MPs also inquired from the officials of the Finance Ministry who were present at the meeting as to whether the 2021 Budget forecasts could be fulfilled.
According to statistics and data submitted by the officials of the Finance Ministry, the Committee observes that if only local funds are used to repay all debts, there will be an increase in interest rates in the near future and this will adversely affect the local private sector, Dr. de Silva pointed out.