The government will liberalise the import of wheat flour to end the monopoly by two multi-national companies and reduce the tax on wheat flour, Cabinet Spokesman and Minister Ramesh Pathirana said yesterday.
Permits will be issued to import wheat flour to keep flour prices steady to benefit estate workers and urban populations during the festive season until the Maha season yield of paddy is harvested.
The two multinational wheat flour importers are used to increasing wheat prices as and when they feel like it and without consulting the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) or the trade ministry as required by the contractual obligations.
Minister Pathirana told reporters at the weekly Cabinet news briefing that the government would also mill 42,000 metric tons of paddy remained from the harvest of last Maha season and release them to the open market in order to plug the sharp increase of rice prices in the domestic market.
The government has fixed the price of a kilogramme of rice at Rs. 98 maximum.
“The government continued to release rice to the market through small and middle-level rice millers of the private sector to maintain a steady price on rice. But the government has observed in recent times that the rice prices in the market had increased drastically. Therefore, the government has decided to mill 42,000 metric tons of paddy that had been stored at Paddy Marketing Board stores since last Maha season via the CWE,” Minister Pathirana said. (Sandun A Jaysekera)