The general public has been requested to call the 1977 hotline number to provide information pertaining to traders who sell rice and sugar above the control prices announced by the government.
State Minister of Co-operative Services and Consumer Protection Lasantha Alagiyawanna said strict legal action will be taken against persons who sell goods above the Maximum Retail Prices announced by the government.
Speaking during a media briefing today, State Minister Alagiyawanna noted that fines will be imposed on individuals, owners of outlets, wholesale traders and operators of supermarket chains.
He said the draft bill to amend the fines imposed on persons for selling goods above government-announced prices will be presented in Parliament on Tuesday.
The State Minister said the Cabinet has decided that the first reading of the bill will take place on Tuesday.
State Minister Alagiyawanna said fines imposed on first and second-time offenders will be increased after the passing of the bill in Parliament.
The State Minister said persons who sell goods above government-stipulated rates are being fined between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 10,000 at present and in future first-time offenders will be charged between Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 1 million.
He added in future if an individual commits the offence for the second time, a fine of between Rs. 200,000 to Rs. 2 million will be levied. Furthermore, fines on company operators or establishments will be increased from between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 1 million to Rs. 10 million for a first offence while second-time offenders will be fined between Rs. 2 million to Rs. 20 million.
The State Minister said a magistrate can impose a fine and a six-month prison sentence for first and second-time offenders.
State Minister of Co-operative Services and Consumer Protection Lasantha Alagiyawanna said a Commissioner General for Essential Services Coordination has been appointed through a Presidential proclamation.
The State Minister said the Commissioner General has been vested with powers to purchase stocks of rice and sugar from operators of warehouses where consignments are being held illegally or from persons who sell goods above control prices announced by the government.
He said such stocks will be sold at Maximum Retail Prices to the general public.
State Minister Alagiyawanna said the move is democratic since some individuals are creating an artificial shortage by hoarding to raise the prices of essential commodities.