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Essential item importers rake in billions in unfair profits

02 Apr 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana   

Importers of essential items such as big onions, potatoes  and dried sprats have earned a total profit of Rs. 114 billion last year  in an unfair manner, the report of the Ways and Means Committee which  was tabled in Parliament revealed yesterday.   

The report which was tabled in the House by the Chairman of  Way and Means Committee Patali Champika Ranawaka in the House said  importers of big onions have earned a total profit of Rs 80 billion in  2023, while potatoes have earned profits of Rs 15.6 billion in 2023  and importers of dried sprats have earned a profit of Rs 18.6 billion.   

The committee report said the price of all these items has  been increased by threefold despite the value of the rupee has depreciated  almost twice proportionately to the US dollar.   

The report has revealed that the price of a kilogram of big  onions was Rs 103 at the time stocks were released from Customs  while the retail price was Rs 365. The price of potatoes was Rs 110 per  kilogram while a kilogram was sold in the retail market at Rs 203 a  kilogram. The situation is the same with the dried sprats as the cost of  a kilogram has been Rs 496 while the retail price has been Rs 1307.5 a  kilogram. The importers of onion has earned a profit level of 297.2 per cent per kilogram in 2023, while potatoes have earned a profit level  of 85 per cent per kilogram and dried sprats have earned a profit level of 164 per cent per kilo.   

MP Ranawaka said the officials of the Consumer Affairs  Authority and other relevant officers will be summoned before the  committee where they will be questioned with regard to the matter.