President Rajapaksa visits Dambulla Economic Centre
Posted on December 2nd, 2009

By Janaka Alahapperuma

President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Dambulla Economic Centre (DEC), which is situated in the Dambulla Secretariat Division of Matale District, in the center of Dambulla town on 30th November.

The President personally inspected the facilities provided at the dedicated economic centre and exchanged opinions and views with traders and consumers. The center which was built to establish a wholesale market for vegetables and fruits is fully owned by the Ministry of Trade, Marketing Development, Co-operatives & Consumer Services. It opens for business everyday except Poya day from 3.00pm to Midnight. The average volume of Sale per week is 26, 500 metric tons and “ƒ”¹…”per day trading’ has increased over Rs: 500 million.

The Economic Center was built with an investment of Rs. 115 million on a 20 acre land in 1999 has 144 stalls. More than 600 direct and another 500 indirect employees work at the Centre. There is huge demand for new shops and value of a vegetable shop is today estimated to be around Rs. 70 million. Shop owners are now requesting the management to build more shops as there is demand.

The centre also works with the Post Harvest Institute, on minimising post harvest waste. There are proposals to establish vegetable bazaars in selected countries to promote local fruits and vegetables in the international market. Plans have been made to organise foreign educational tours for sellers in the centre on adopting latest technologies. The main buyers of the centre consist of retail and wholesale buyers, suppliers, distributors, supermarkets and tourists hotels.

Recently the President ordered to crackdown on DEC mafia. This vegetable mafia was involved in rackets such as price fixing, hoarding and creating artificial shortages. It was being backed by some politicians. Therefore the President has directed the Ministry of Trade and Consumer Affairs to hold a full-scale inquiry into alleged corruption and other rackets at the DEC where a vegetable mafia backed by politicians is reported to be manipulating prices at the expense of consumers and farmers. Recently, some politicians in the region have demanded huge sums from each trader if they wished to continue at the centre. It is alleged that this sum demanded by the politicians was only the initial payment with more money to follow.

However during the inspection President personally talked to the traders, workers and buyers at the centre and inquired about the problems they face. He checked local potatoes, tomatoes, banana and other vegetables and fruits and walked into few stalls and monitored the facilities they receive by the Authority.

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