Rice import ban should be done only after proper study - Finance Committee | Daily News

Rice import ban should be done only after proper study - Finance Committee

Members of the Committee on Public Finance on Wednesday recommended that if the import ban on rice, which was imposed last April, is to be lifted again, it should be done only after a proper forecast of the forthcoming Yala season.

Finance Committee Chairman Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said that under the prevailing special circumstances, the local paddy farmer has to logically analyze the situation and make predictions in order to give a fair price for his harvest as well as to enable the consumer to consume quality rice at a reasonable price.

Replying to this, Imports and Exports Controller General revealed that according to the available data, the expected Yala harvest is likely to be only 2/3 as compared to last year. MP Nalin Fernando pointed out to the Committee that by allowing the import of rice without a licence, the business community would be tempted to import more rice than it is required for consumption in Sri Lanka.

Hence, the Finance Ministry should intervene to prevent the local farmer from facing difficulties. He also pointed out to the officials of the Finance Ministry that it is important to have rice in the local market that can be bought at a lower price by the citizens of all economic levels as compared to India.

It was emphasized at the Committee on Public Finance to obtain approval for an Extraordinary Gazette Notification permitting the importation of Kekulu, Nadu,Samba and other types of rice as per the order of the Finance Minister.Dr.Harsha de Silva stated that officials need to investigate the macro impact of such orders given without a correct and logical assessment.

In addition, the Committee approved to submit to Parliament the report of the Committee on Public Finance on the extent to which the Appropriation Bill is in line with Government policies in accordance with the Standing Orders of Parliament as soon as possible.The MPs inquired from the officials of the Finance Ministry present at the Committee meeting as to whether the 2021 Budget Forecasts could be fulfilled. According to the statistics and data submitted by the officials of the Ministry of Finance, the Committee observes that if only local funds are used to repay all debts, there will be an increase in interest rates in the near future and this will adversely affect the local private sector, Dr.Harsha de Silva said.

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