Prices of 10 essential items to be revised

By Nadia Fazlulhaq and Madhushala Senaratne

An upper price limit will be introduced shortly for 10 essential food items, The Sunday Times learns.
The government is expected to revise prices for rice, sugar, potatoes, onions, dried chillies, green gram, dhal, canned fish, dried fish and milk powder.

Traders say they are prepared to sell within the stipulated price range so long as these goods are exempt from taxes. “These items have been tax exempt for one-and-a-half years, and we were told the exemptions will continue,” said Pettah Trade Association president S. P. Samy. “Every three months the government adjusts prices in line with world market prices. We want to make sure our prices are fair by both the traders and the consumers.”

Because of taxes on imported agricultural products, the prices of kurakkan, cowpea and other types of gram have gone up. However, traders are compelled to import these items and sell at high prices because local output falls short of market demand, Mr. Samy said.

The wholesale price of green gram has gone up by Rs. 5 and a kilo sells for Rs. 98. Cowpea has gone up by Rs. 10, and a kilo sells for Rs. 105. Traders say Christmas this year will be more expensive than the last because of the proposed taxes on imported items announced in the recent budget.

A leading food importer told The Sunday Times that the 15 percent duty increase would be felt by the consumer. Imported stationery is also due to go up in price.

The sales manager of a leading stationery store said the next shipment of goods, including files, staplers, punchers, pens, marker pens, and notepads, would reflect a price increase of 5 to 10 percent.
Meanwhile, chicken is also expected to go up in price, because of the 25 percent cess on poultry feed, warned All-Island Poultry Association chairman Dr. D. D. Wanasinghe. “The controlled price for a kilo of chicken is Rs. 320. However, we have asked the Consumer Affairs Authority for an increase in price. The poultry industry is suffering because of the price control.”

Dr. Wanasinghe said consumers should expect a price hike by Christmas. “The price of chicken will go up by Rs. 20 to Rs. 25. We are being compelled to increase the price.”

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