Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa chairs the virtual meeting of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Cost of Living yesterday with Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena speaking
- Prime Minister directs Imports and Exports Dept. and Customs to release food containers stuck in Port for immediate distribution
- Finance Minister urges Trade Minister to expedite distribution of essential food items through CWE, importers
- Officials of Trade and Agriculture Ministries made responsible for releasing essential food items without shortage
- Central Bank to release necessary foreign exchange to release containers stuck at Port
- Govt. decides to abolish sugar import licence scheme; private sector imported sugar stocks currently at Port to be sold via CWE
- State Minister Alagiyawanna to hold discussion with sugar importers today
- Cabinet Sub-Committee on CoL approves import of animal feed
By Charumini de Silva
The Government yesterday took a host of urgent measures to ease the cost of living, shortage of essential items, and difficulties faced by importers and traders.
The raft of measures was decided on at the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa-chaired Cabinet Sub-Committee on Cost of Living yesterday.
The Prime Minister instructed the Controller General of Imports and Exports and the Director-General of Customs to immediately release essential food items stuck at Colombo Port due to various reasons including failure by banks to release foreign exchange to importers.
Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa called on Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardane to expedite the distribution of the essential food items to the general public through the Co-operative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) and essential food importers.
On Thursday, it was revealed that there were 800 imported containers with essential goods stuck at Colombo Port due to the unavailability of foreign exchange by banks.
The Finance Minister also emphasised that the officials from the Ministry of Trade and Agriculture should be held responsible for releasing essential food items including rice to the market without any shortage.
The Weekend FT learns that the Central Bank will release the foreign exchange for all containers lying in the Port.
In addition, the licence scheme for sugar imports has been abolished from yesterday (24) and importers have agreed to supply all stocks lying in the Colombo Port to the CWE.
All due payments for sugar will be decided at a meeting with Cooperative Services, Marketing Development and Consumer Protection State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna today at the Ministry premises.
With regards to the stocks of canned fish, importers will have to discuss with the relevant authorities in order to verify the arsenic levels of the products.
However, the Cabinet Sub-Committee had not come to a definitive decision with regards to the stocks of the ice at the meeting yesterday, the Weekend FT learns.
Livestock, Farm Promotion and Dairy and Egg-Related Industries State Minister D.B. Herath requested for further procurement of animal feed including maize from foreign markets and the Cabinet Sub-Committee on CoL approved it.
At the request of the Trade Minister, the Prime Minister assured to expedite the investigation into the allegations levelled by Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) former Executive Director Thushan Gunawardena.
Cabinet Ministers Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Douglas Devananda, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, State Minister Janaka Wakkumbura, Treasury Secretary S. R. Attygalle, Trade Ministry Secretary J. M. B. Jayawardana, Prime Minister’s Additional Secretary Chaminda Kularatne, Essential Services Commissioner General Major General M. D. S. P. Niwunhella, Sri Lanka Customs Director General Major General (Retd.) Vijitha Ravipriya, Food Commissioner J. Krishnamoorthy, CWE Chairman Rear Admiral (Retd.) Ananda Peiris, and Secretaries of several Ministries, Additional Secretaries, Heads of Departments, and representatives of the Essential Food Commodities Importers and Traders Association (EFCITA) were also present at the meeting.