Fair prices for essentials - PM

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe inaugurating the free WiFi Zone at the Gampaha Bus Stand-2. Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka and Gampaha district Parliamentarian Ajith Mannapperuma look on. Picture by Hirantha Gunathilake

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday, said the government has taken measures to introduce fair price shops in collaboration with the private sector and the Lak Sathosa to ensure fair prices for essential commodities in the open market.

The Prime Minister while noting that the prices of commodities have seen an increase, said that agriculture production was hampered due to bad weather conditions that swept across the country during the past two years.

“The prices of commodities have seen a drastic increase and as a government, we are aware of it,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister was speaking after opening the Gampaha Bus Stand-2. The new bus stand is a free Wifi Zone. The bus stand was constructed by the Urban Development Authority utilizing funds from the Sukitha Purawara Town Development Programme of the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry under the directions of President Maithripala Sirisena.

The Premier said that adverse weather conditions had affected agriculture production in the country during the past two years and this situation has resulted in the increase in the cost of living.

The Prime Minister added that the government will find a permanent solution to this issue.

“However, the government has taken measures to introduce fair price shops during the festive season until next April, with the participation of the private sector and the Sathosa.”

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe added that following discussions between President Maithripala Sirisena, Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera,

private sector representatives, Sathosa, public sector officials and himself, it was decided to provide essential items at Landed Price rates until April next year.

“The prices of Rice, Dhal, Sugar, Sprats, B Onions, Potatoes and long beans would be provided at landed prices,” the Premier said.

“Cargills Food City, Laugfs, Richard Pieris and Company, John Keells Ltd. and Wickramaratne (Private) Ltd and Lanka Sathosa that participated the discussion agreed to provide this facility.

“The Government cannot address this issue alone.Therefore,the support of the private sector is needed to address this issue,”the Premier said.

The Premier further said that those private sector organisations and Sathosa could cater only to 30 percent of the requirement. He added that these organisations have agreed to provided transport to deliver essential items to the villages and the rest 70 percent of the consumers at landed price rates. However, it would take another fortnight for these commodities reach the villages.

He also said that if the prices of consumer items don’t see a reduction after taking these measures, the government would take steps to import them.

“The Gampaha District would be developed along with the area between Colombo and Gampaha in another 10 to 15 years,” the Prime Minister added.

He said further that the area extending to Mahara,Kadawatha, Yakkala, Ja-ela and Udugampola would be developed within this period making Gampaha one of the biggest cities in the country.

The Prime Minister further said that Gampaha was declared a new district in 1978 during the J.R.Jayewardene regime.

The fisheries and tourism industries in the Negombo area were promoted while Gampaha was developed as the administrative centre in the district.

The Premier added that the district and its surrounding areas would be developed under the guidance of the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry.

“This ministry has had to find funds for its projects and also funds to settle the loans taken during the previous regime,” Premier Wickremesinghe said.

“However, the government is solving the people’s issues,”the Prime Minister added.

UNP Gampaha District Parliamentarian Ajith Mannapperuma said the rail track from Ragama to Veyangoda via Gampaha should be developed to three lanes as thousands of commuters travel by train between 6 am to 8 am everyday.


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