Maximum retail prices on rice, dhal and sugar

The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Consumer Affairs Council has taken the policy decision to set legal maximum retail prices (MRPs) for several consumer staples, including rice, red lentil dhal and sugar.

Consumer Council chairman NSM Samsudeen told the Sunday Observer yesterday that the council had presented its decision to the Minister for Trade, Commerce and Food Safety, Nalin Fernando, for approval.

“We made recommendations on how to make it operational across the country,” he said.

“We made this policy decision to prevent the escalation of social unrest resulting from price volatility of kitchen commodities and to minimize the possibility of errant traders exploiting consumers on these commodities,” Samsudeen said. “The Council has taken careful note of the situation caused by the current financial crisis. Some traders seemed to be using the current wave of inflation as an excuse to raise prices to increase their profits,” he added.

Samsudeen said that when MRPs are set for rice, lentils and sugar, no retailer can sell these products at higher prices. “The CAA will use its powers and take legal action against traders who sell these items at higher prices.”

When asked why the CAA has taken no action against traders who openly sell rice, dhal, lentils, chilli and other products at prices determined solely by them over the past few weeks, he said the MRPs for these items could not be set until now due to supply constraints amid the fuel shortage.

“For us to act, the MRPs must be published in the Gazette. We were unable to do this due to the economic disruptions, which led to a rapid increase in food prices,” he said.

“When we received complaints, our units were sometimes unable to get to the places in question due to a lack of fuel. However, the police have assisted us in carrying out our duties, particularly by taking action against errant gas station owners across the country. »

When Samsudeen was asked if the Council he heads had specified the MRPs for rice, lentils and sugar based on scientific recommendations, he replied that it would remain secret until the MRPs were published. in the Gazette,” he said.

Sri Lankans consume about 107 kilograms of rice per person per year. The country’s overall annual sugar requirements are expected to be around 550,000 tonnes. The average monthly consumption of lentils per capita is 671.14 grams, according to sources from the Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Food Security.

Rachel J. Bradford