Minister of Lands SM Chandrasena says the decision reached by the Cabinet of Ministers to import rice was not taken voluntarily.
Speaking during a media briefing in Colombo, Minister Chandrasena said rice imports could be curtailed if stocks of rice concealed by local businessmen were released to the market.
The Minister said the government is responsible for protecting farmers and businessmen. He said queues were forming to purchase rice adding the government sought to address the situation without importing rice.
The Minister claimed even though approval was granted to import 100,000MT of rice, it will not be brought down at once adding mill owners and vendors will have time to release concealed stocks to the market and reduce.
Furthermore, Minister Chandrasena said even if rice is imported and the price of rice is reduced, the guaranteed price of Rs.55 for paddy will not be removed.
He said the government will continue to purchase paddy at the guaranteed price even if private businessmen do not consent to the guaranteed price.