Will not reverse decision to restrict turmeric import – President

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa emphasizes that appropriate measures will be taken to reduce the cost of living, by implementing the decisions already taken while adhering to a consistent policy without moving backwards.

While noting that the prices of several consumer goods, including turmeric, have risen due to decisions taken to uplift local agricultural industry and the farming community, President Rajapaksa pointed out that if turmeric and other commodities are imported to control or bring prices down, the desired objective will never be achieved.

The President stated that even though public are faced with difficulties for a short period of time, measures that have been taken to strengthen the rural economy and uplift the farming community cannot be reversed.

The President made these remarks at the first Cabinet Sub Committee meeting on Cost of Living held at the Presidential Secretariat, yesterday (31), stated President’s Media Division.

During the meeting, it was discussed in detail regarding the impact of the rise in prices of the several essential commodities on the economy of the urban middle class.

‘In order to earn a stable and strong income for the rural farmers who make up about 40% of the population, we need to develop confidence that they would get a high price for their produce and assure a stable market for them’ President said.

The President further added that without taking such measures we cannot encourage the rural communities to engage themselves in the agricultural sector while pointing out the difficulty of removing the existing import restrictions.

The President said that, in order to control the foreign exchange parity rates and to get rid of high debt burden on farmers, imports should be restricted. The President further pointed out that countries such as India and the United States have also imposed import restrictions in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.

“The programme to offer job opportunities to eradicate poverty is expected to uplift the economy of the underprivileged. Samurdhi beneficiaries will have to contribute by looking after themselves. Their living condition and nutrition levels could be elevated by home gardening and providing hens and eggs for poultry farming.”

President highlighted the need for proper procedures to address the issues faced by the middle class in the suburbs due to inflation. Following the COVID 19 pandemic, the government took steps to deliver the farm produce directly to the consumers at a subsidized price. President noted that continuing this practice would remove the middlemen and their exploitation and protect both the farmer and the consumer.

“Promoting the economic condition of the people in remote areas and reducing the cost of living burden of the people in the suburbs should be addressed simultaneously” President stressed.

In order to accomplish it and deliver farmer’s produce straight to the consumers, use of government business institutes such as Sathosa, Co-op, Govijana Seva Centers and Security forces had been discussed at the meeting.

Revamping the island-wide network of Economic Centers and implementation of a proper system to purchase farmer’s produce had also been taken into the consideration by the Cabinet Sub-committee on Cost of Living.

Further, the President had advised the officials to update him once a week on the market status.

Head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Basil Rajapaksa stated that it was necessary to ascertain the amount of food consumed by an individual in the district and national level and added that Divisional Secretariats should promote home gardening and poultry farming in areas under their jurisdiction.

Officials noted that due to the success of Cowpea, Undhu, Peanuts, Sesame, Kurakkan and Onion farming, these items will not have to be imported in the future.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Ministers Bandula Gunawardana, Ramesh Pathirana, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, State Ministers Arundika Fernando, Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Secretary to the President, P.B Jayasundera, secretaries to the respective ministries and other officials were present at the discussion.