Sri Lanka warns rice hoarders

April 20th, 2008 - 3:17 pm ICT by admin  

Colombo, April 20 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan government has said it would come down heavily on recalcitrant traders flouting a price control order on rice, the nation’s staple diet. “We will implement the Consumer Protection Act to the letter and take action against anyone who would contravene the law,” Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena told reporters Saturday.

On April 16, the government declared price control of rice through a special gazette notification. The government stipulated that the retail price of rice must not exceed 70 rupees (about $0.65).

The government warning came after some varieties of rice sold at more than 100 rupees a kilogramme in the market. The high price was blamed on unscrupulous traders.

The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Thursday and Friday arrested a few wholesalers, who had sold rice at higher than the stipulated prices.

The government found that the wholesale traders in central Colombo’s Pettah market had shut stores and were not willing to comply with the order. In one such shop, CAA officials seized some 150 bags of rice Friday.

A section of the wholesalers claim they would incur losses if they were to strictly follow the government stipulated retail price.

“No one can challenge the government authority, legal action will be taken against the hoarders,” Gunawardena said.

The government began to look for rice imports mainly from Myanmar after India banned the export of rice. Some 20,000 tonnes of rice have been imported from Myanmar, the officials said.

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