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JVP condemns govt. move to export paddy

2013 Jul 11

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The JVP yesterday accused the government of planning to mill and export its excess stocks of paddy to free its warehouses for the next season’s harvest.

Former JVP MP and president of the All Ceylon Peasant Association Namal Karunaratne said that the government was without a strategy to purchase paddy. "It is a shame to export rice while it is being imported in to the country," he said, adding that a system was needed to buy paddy and stock it.

Karunaratne said that the government’s paddy purchasing centres rejected paddy brought by farmers, claiming that it did not meet the required standards, but the same paddy was purchased when it was brought by private businessmen.

He alleged that 95 per cent of the paddy stored in government stores had been bought from private sector businessmen who made a killing as middlemen.

"The government must, first of all, enforce a certified price for paddy" Karunaratne said.

Government Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that it was true that the government was planning to export excess paddy stored by the Paddy Marketing Board to clear the warehouses in view of the next harvest.

He said that the PMB expected to purchase around 75,000 to 100,000 MT of paddy from the total Yala harvest towards the end of July.

Rambukwella said that with a view to making available the storage facilities required for the purpose, a proposal made by Minister of Co-operatives and Internal Trade Johnston Fernando, to mill 50,000 MT of paddy, available in stores, and sell it to foreign countries, with a buffer stock of 50,000 MT retained, had been approved by the Cabinet last week.

Minister Rambukwella said that the government had purchased 138,650 MT of paddy through the PMB during the last Maha season.

Currently, the PMB has stocks of 27,850 MT Samba, 62,290 MT White Nadu, and 55,000 MT Red Nadu.

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