Posted on December 20th, 2016

Editorial Courtesy Ceylon Today

Last week it was reported that the government is taking drastic measures to address a drought that is expected to threaten the country in the near future. Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake meeting with the media noted that the President has received an expert report on the predicted drought that will affect the country’s agriculture sector for an undisclosed period of time.

For reasons unknown, the government without informing the people, who depend so much on our country’s agriculture sector, has decided to address this threat by importing rice from several other Asian countries. The Finance Minister, Minister of Agriculture nor the Minister of Disaster Management has breathed a word about the drought matter but we assume, continue to believe that importing the rice is the best solution.

It might just be the solution to the prolonged rice problem of the country which has not seen a break since of late. Every government that has secured the power seats of the country has not been able to provide a solution to this issue and every year, a number of farmers are faced with a crisis. It is not just the normal consumers who have to face the problem of cost of living but also the producers of the essential good – rice in this matter.

Government is expected to import a huge quantity of rice as a contingency move against possible shortages arising out of a long drawn out drought as warned by the Meteorology Department. Accordingly, a concerned President and Prime Minister had submitted a rushed Cabinet proposal to import rice from three Asian countries in order to create a buffer during the drought season. The imported rice that will hedge against any shortage will be stockpiled in bonded warehouses, according to the Finance Minister.

The government will import rice for up to Rs 200 million which can be used by consumers for up to one-and-a-half-months. The imported stocks will be utilized only if a black market situation affecting consumers arises.
Following this, the All Ceylon Canteen Owners’ Association announced that the price of a packet of rice and curry will be increased by Rs 10 from yesterday, owing to the dramatic increase in the price of rice over the past few weeks. Adding to that, the Association also noted that leading rice mill owners and wholesale dealers have stocked large quantities of rice and have created an artificial price hike in the market.

Whether these claims are backed with substantial evidence we still do not know. However, from the Association’s allegations, it seems that the alleged ‘leading rice mill owners and wholesale dealers’ have been privately notified of the upcoming drought.
If so, this action is tantamount to creating a black market for rice in the country and it is essential that the government takes steps to addressing the matter. Creating the buffer stockpile will not be enough once the impending drought arrives. More so, the current stockpile of rice needs to be released into the market in order to avoid the creation of a black market. For, there will be a lack in the product in the market, the longer the stocks are held inside warehouses.

Therefore, the government should take immediate steps to gradually release the rice stocks before unnecessary economic implications arise and most importantly, before the stockpiles expire. If the stocked rice is infested with lice or remains stagnant for a long period of time and becomes expired, responding to the upcoming drought will be almost impossible.

Furthermore, we think, that it is safe to investigate the claims made by the Associations of rice mill owners and wholesale dealers selling rice stock at a higher price. The necessary authorities should be motivated and deployed to inquire into this and if necessary, raid shops and warehouses.

It is well about the time we see to solving the rice crisis the country is facing. From what was the rice warehouse for the South Asian sector during the age of kings, we have fallen so low, that we are importing rice from other countries. It is indeed times of utter shame.

3 Responses to “TIMES OF UTTER SHAME!”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    DUDLEY SIRISENA – president’s brother is the biggest RICE MAFIA!

    Sira will not allow rice imports.

  2. NAK Says:

    In this country, the word “SHAME” has no meaning.

  3. Christie Says:

    By the time country has started to produce rice locally to meet the local demand India was able to install a government headed by its puppet SWRD.

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