Govt. to purchase paddy at higher prices

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The government would purchase top quality paddy at a minimum certified price of Rs. 50 per kilogramme and a kilogramme of paddy with moisture at a certified price of Rs. 45 from the harvest of Maha season, Cabinet spokesman and Minister Bandula Gunawardana said yesterday.

The small and medium scale rice millers will be given soft loans at 8% interest to purchase paddy, Minister Gunawardana said and added the cabinet on Wednesday took a series of decisions to protect the paddy farmer and consumers.

He told the weekly cabinet news briefing that the government under Gotabaya Rajapaksa would not discriminate small paddy millers and the soft loan scheme to purchase paddy at a low interest rate will be implemented by the Bank of Ceylon, Peoples’ Bank and Regional Development Bank.

The accelerated programme to purchase paddy during the Maha season of 2019 – 2020 was on now while a harvest of 3 million metric tons of paddy is expected. As a result of avoidance of importing rice by the government as a policy although a slight hike of prices of rice can be seen. saves approximately US$ 100 million of foreign exchange. The savings of foreign exchange through suspension of rice imports resulted in strengthening foreign exchange as well as decline of interest rates. Accordingly, the decided that the government shall mediate in purchasing surplus of paddy stocks in the Maha season of 2019 – 2020 with objective of encouraging the private sector paddy millers to purchase paddy under a fair price to ensure sustaining a fixed price of paddy, Minister Gunawardana stressed.

The cabinet has also decided to purchase rice through district secretaries, government agents as well as from the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB). Direct purchase of quantities of rice required for government institutions such as Tri forces, Department of Prisons, Hospitals etc; from Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) itself.

Instructions will be issued by the government to immediately entrusting all the storehouses, warehouses under the purview of the Food Commission for-storing the paddy stocks purchased for storing paddy stocks that is purchased to utilize Lorries and trucks belong to the government for transportation of paddy stocks, issuance of pledge loans through state and private banking establishments approximately amounting to Rs. 100 billion under a concessionary loan interest rate of 8% for those purchasers including small and medium scale as well as large scale millers for the purchase of paddy under the certified price.

The government will entrust the monitoring of the paddy purchasing programme in the pioneering districts of Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Vavuniya, Ampara, Batticaloa, Moneragala and Hambantota to several state ministers, Minister Gunawardana stressed.