Youth and Sports Minister and the Chairman of the “Gama Samaga Pilisandara” Rural Development Task Force Namal Rajapaksa on Thursday instructed the relevant officials to focus on a programme that will protect both the entrepreneurs and the consumers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was speaking at a discussion held at Temple Trees on Thursday regarding the possibility of using Information Technology based systems to control the prices of vegetables and fruits in an effective manner in the face of the current Corona pandemic.
The Minister also paid special attention to the need to do justice to the consumers who have to buy vegetables at exorbitant prices, even though the prices of vegetables in economic centres island wide vary from one to another.
The officials pointed out that the increase in the prices of vegetables compared to the previous years, was due to the non-production season of vegetables. However, it was revealed that people are unable to buy vegetables and fruits at reasonable prices as intermediaries who buy fruits and vegetables from farmers determine the final prices.
It was also revealed at this meeting that the people do not have access to vegetables and fruits at a fair price as retail vendors are in the habit of determining prices for them on their own accord.
Officials pointed out that the lack of public awareness regarding the wholesale and retail prices of vegetables has made it easier for traders to sell vegetables at higher prices.
The Minister instructed the relevant officials to prepare a programme to make the public aware of the wholesale prices of vegetables at the Economic Centres in the Outer Provinces and at the Economic Centres near Colombo through the media and social media.
The Minister informed the officials to make it mandatory for all mobile vendors and retail outlets to display an updated price list of their products.
The Minister also instructed the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) to take appropriate action against all retailers and wholesalers who sell vegetables and fruits at exorbitant prices. The Minister further instructed to prepare a mechanism where the people can buy vegetables and fruits at reasonable prices through the CWE and Co-operative outlets.
Further, it was proposed to establish small economic centres centered in major cities to provide vegetables and fruits to the people at concessionary prices. Discussions were held on measures to make rice and coconut available at reasonable prices, as the prices are highly volatile. There was a lengthy discussion on the distribution of food items using information technology and keeping the prices stable.