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Farmers to take to streets unless their demands are granted

2013 Nov 28

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The JVP-led All Ceylon Peasants’ Association (ACPA) yesterday urged the government to offer better prices for paddy.

Addressing a media conference, at the Nippon Hotel in Colombo, ACPA National Organiser, JVP North-Western Provincial Council member and ACPA National Organiser Namal Karunaratne said that their association had, in its budget proposals, requested President Mahinda Rajapaksa to set Rs. 40 as a certified price for paddy but in vain.

The production cost of one kilo of paddy was Rs. 31.25 and Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, too, admitted that, Karunaratne said, adding that was why they were demanding at least Rs. 40 for one kilo paddy.

Karunaratne said that Rs. 1 billion had been set aside for a pension scheme for the benefit of farmers above 63 years of age but no mention had been made of arrears.

He said 959,000 farmers in the country had contributed to the pension scheme, whICH was stopped two years back.

The former MP said that another 60,000 farmers were past the retirement age the government should pay them their pensions with the arrears for those last two years.

"The 63 age limit should be reduced to 60 and we want the government to add it as an amendment to the budget," Karunaratne said, adding that his organisation would give the government time until November 30 and then they would take to the streets IF no action was taken to grant their demands.

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