Minister of Trade, Commerce and Food Security Hon. Nalin Fernando said that at present his ministry has been able to control the rise in the market price of essential food items. He said so at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Trade, Commerce and Food Security held in Parliament recently.
Addressing the committee, the minister further mentioned that when comparing the prices of the open market in the months of March and April, the consumer has been able to get relief from the reduction in the price of essential goods by November. Accordingly, one kilogram of dhal in the open market in July was 595 rupees, and in December, one kilogram of dhal was reduced to 389 rupees from Lanka Sathosa . He further mentioned that 1 kilogram of wheat flour which was 410 rupees in the open market, was reduced to 265 rupees from Lanka Sathosa in December.
Also, the minister said that the Sathosa was able to reduce the price of one kilogram of white sugar which was at 280 rupees to 229 rupees and to reduce the price of one kilogram of samba rice from 225 rupees to 198 rupees.
The Minister instructed the Consumer Affairs Authority and the Department of Measurement Units Standards & Services to continue market monitoring and inspections for the sake of consumer protection during the upcoming festive season.
In addition to that, he emphasized that the Consumer Act No. 9 of 2003 will be amended with the aim of establishing a fair market system. The Minister said that the qualifications of the full-time members including the Chairman of the Consumer Authority are expected to be included in the Act and the method of investigating consumer complaints against manufacturers and traders is expected to be included in the Act in a more systematic manner. Minister also said that he intends to present the revised draft including new clauses to the next consultative committee meeting.
Opinions were also expressed about the implementation of programs to attract the youth to the cooperative sector. Minister said that it is proposed to implement relief programs through the cooperative sector to identify young entrepreneurs and direct them to the production process. Also, through the empowerment of cooperative societies, it is expected to further strengthen the retail and wholesale network and to introduce a cooperative scholarship system, he said.
The minister also said that at present, it has been possible to run the State Trading Corporation (STC) profitably. STC was given the exclusive right to import and distribute the ammonium nitrate required by the country, but with the ban on the export of ammonium nitrate by India, the explosives industry in the country suffered a setback. But again, ammonium nitrate has been imported and distributed through STC, minister said.
Also, the minister said that the government has paid close attention to ensuring food security in the country. It was also emphasized that a project to promote women entrepreneurs in order to increase incomes and improve the quality of life will be started within this month. The chairman mentioned that at the moment, identification of the relevant beneficiaries is going on at the divisional secretariat level and after the relevant identification, the necessary equipment will be provided to the women entrepreneurs by STC.
Discussions were held on the relaunch of the Mahapola Education and Trade Fair and the Minister said that the Mahapola Education and Trade Fair will be restarted by March 2023.
State Ministers Hon. S. Viyalanderan, Hon. Kader Mastan, Hon. Rohana Dissanayake and several Members of Parliament were present at the meeting held. Also, a group of officials representing relevant institutions including the Secretary to the Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Food Safety also participated.
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