Price on the consumer’s head
By Nalaka Nonis
More than three months have passed since the UPFA
government came into office promising a reduction in the cost of
living as one of their main election pledges, but instead of the
much-bragged-about relief, the consumer has been further hit by
of a number of items such as rice, sugar, dhal, coconut and petrol
have gone up drastically after the UPFA came to office Prices of
rice have gone up by as much as Rs. 11. Samba which was sold at
Rs. 30 a kilo before the April 2 general elections, has now gone
upto Rs. 37; the price of a kilo of Nadu has gone up from Rs. 28
to 32; white raw rice from Rs. 26 to 37 and red raw kekulu from
Rs. 28 to 37.
price of a kilo of Sugar has gone up from Rs. 29 to 34, dhal from
Rs. 47 to 64 and coconut from Rs. 11 to 13-14. With moves to import
rice being opposed by the UPFA's main alliance partner, the JVP,
traders speculate further rise in prices. The traders said the present
hike in rice prices was largely due to an artificial demand created
by rice millers, who were deliberately holding back the supply of
rice to the market.
trader from the Pettah market told The Sunday Times that around
600 tons of rice came to the Pettah market a few months ago, but
now the quantity had come down to around 300 tons. Though the price
hike in petrol from Rs. 57 to 65 is mainly affecting the upper and
middle class, it has also hit those who hire three-wheelers.
three-wheeler drivers have seized the opportunity to increase their
charges unfairly. Some who charged Rs. 100 a journey are now charging
Rs. 120 to 130 even though the added actual cost they have to bear
as a result of the increase is about 40 cents a kilometre.
Island Three-wheel Drivers Welfare Association President Lalith
Dharmasena urged three-wheel drivers to charge fairly from the passengers
according to the percentage increased. He said it is in the best
interest of the passenger to agree upon a charge before making a
burden is on the cards for consumers, as Shell Gas threatens to
increase the price of a gas cylinder by Rs. 70 making it Rs. 690,
if the Government discontinues the subsidy given to the company.
Shell has already increased the price of auto gas, citing price
increases in the world market.
law, permission is required from the Consumer Affairs Authority,
which comes under the wing of the Trade, Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Ministry, to increase the prices of essential goods. However these
'essential' items, which have been gazetted by the Ministry only
include milk powder, LP Gas, mosquito coils, boxes of matches and
were spared another rude shock when a request by the Ceylon Electricity
Board (CEB) for a 20 percent tariff increase was shot down by President
Chandrika Kumaratunga. However, reports said a five percent rise
is on the cards.
The Private Bus Owners Association President Gemunu Wijeratne said
they were entitled to go for another hike according to the agreement
they had reached with the Government. He said though they were holding
back at the moment, if the situation warranted a hike, they would
be compelled to do so.
ease the burden of the spiralling cost of living, a ministerial
committee has recommended the withdrawal of tariff on wheat flour
imports and encouraged milk food imports from India and sugar from
Brazil, said Consumer Affairs Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle who,
along with with ministers Sarath Amunugama, Susil Premajayanth,
Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Lalkantha Perera, comprised the committee.