Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa speaking in Parliament today requested President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to intervene and provide concessions to small and medium scale rice mill owners, burdened as a result of failed legal action taken by the government, to control rice prices.
The Opposition Leader made the request while making a statement under Standing Orders, regarding difficulties faced by consumers as a result of prices of rice increasing and the situation faced by small and medium scale rice mill owners.
MP Premadasa said the result of quashing the competitiveness in the rice market has fallen on the consumer adding this has violated consumer rights.
He charged the government of violating the right to engage in independent businesses by hampering the small and medium scale rice mills industry.
He questioned the government if they acknowledge the failure in attempts to control the price of rice by imposing emergency regulations, repealing gazettes and raids conducted by the Consumer Affairs Authority.
The Opposition Leader questioned whether the government agrees over the importance of small and medium scale rice mills owners to the economy and the importance of protecting them.
In response, State Minister of Co-operative Services, Marketing Development and Consumer Protection Lasantha Alagiyawanna said consumers would have had to purchase rice, paddy and sugar at much higher prices than today if the Consumer Affairs Authority had not issued the gazette notification and action was not taken under emergency regulations.
He claimed this statement can be proven with statistics and facts.
The State Minister said the government issued the gazette through the Authority in good faith adding the President also used emergency laws for the first time in history to protect consumers.
He said the results of these actions were enjoyed adding it cannot be named a failure.
State Minister Alagiyawanna said the Minister of Trade made necessary arrangements to import stocks of rice.
He said they acknowledge the increase in the price of rice in the market adding the government will take maximum steps to protect the consumer while ensuring the safety of farmers.