Minister of Trade Bandula Gunawardana says a shortage of rice arose in the market and led to high prices, due to large scale paddy mill owners concealing stocks of rice.
The Minister said rice mill owners failed to fulfil promises to sell stocks of rice at the government determined maximum retail price.
Minister Gunawardana claimed the government made various attempts to control prices adding however that they failed which resulted in the public having to pay Rs.120 per kilogram of Nadu rice and Rs.150 for a kilogram of Samba.
He said the government reached an agreement with large scale paddy mill owners to sell a kilogram of Nadu at Rs.98 and a kilogram of Samba at Rs.103.
Minister Gunawardana however said they halted supplies to the market and failed to meet the tenders called by Lanka Sathosa.
He said Sathosa, that was selling rice at a concessionary price, also ran out of stocks.
Minister Gunawardana explained the reasoning behind the appointment of a Commissioner of Essential Services. He claimed large scale paddy mill owners who supplied up to 500,000-600,000kg of rice daily reduced their supply to 30,000kg in order to create a shortage.
The Minister said the Essential Services Commissioner was appointed to thwart the meticulously planned conspiracy to create a rice shortage.
He said the Commissioner’s responsibility is to create provisions to distribute goods at the government stipulated prices without a shortage.