Members of the Committee on Public Finance recently (01) recommended that if the import ban on rice, which was imposed last April, is to be allowed again, it should be done only after a proper forecast of the forthcoming Yala season.
The Chairman of the Committee on Finance, Hon. Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, pointed out that under the prevailing special circumstances, the local paddy farmer has to logically analyze the situation and make predictions in order to give a fair price for his harvest as well as to enable the consumer to consume quality rice at a reasonable price.
Replying to this, the Imports and Exports Controller General revealed that according to the available data, the expected Yala harvest is likely to be only 2/3 as compared to last year.
Hon. Nalin Fernando, Member of Parliament pointed out to the Committee that by allowing the importation of rice without a license, the business community would be tempted to import more rice than it is required for consumption in Sri Lanka. Hence, the Ministry of Finance should intervene to prevent the local farmer from facing difficulties. He also pointed out to the officials of the Ministry of Finance that it is important to have rice in the local market that can be bought at a lower price by the citizens of all economic levels as compared to India.
It was emphasized at the Committee on Public Finance to obtain approval for an Extraordinary Gazette Notification permitting the importation of Kekulu, Nadu, Samba and other types of rice as per the order of the Minister of Finance. Hon. Member of Parliament (Dr.) Harsha de Silva stated that officials need to investigate the macro impact of such orders given without a correct and logical assessment.
In addition, the Committee approved to submit to Parliament the report of the Committee on Public Finance on the extent to which the Appropriation Bill is in line with Government policies in accordance with the Standing Orders of Parliament as soon as possible.
The Hon. Members of Parliament inquired from the officials of the Ministry of Finance who were present at the Committee meeting as to whether the 2021 Budget Forecasts could be fulfilled. According to the statistics and data submitted by the officials of the Ministry of Finance, the Committee observes that if only local funds are used to repay all debts, there will be an increase in interest rates in the near future and this will adversely affect the local private sector, (Dr.) Harsha de Silva said.