(UDHAYAM, COLOMBO) – A steep drop in prices of essential items, sustained by steady supplies, has resulted in one of the best Vesak buying seasons for the Sri Lankan consumer.
“Our work to control the supply situation starting 7 April on the instructions of the President has brought good results,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen last morning, responding to latest updates from retail and wholesale distributors of Pettah – Colombo’s wholesale market epicentre.
Previously, on 7 April, on the instructions of President Maithripala Sirisena, Minister Bathiudeen and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake visited Pettah market, inspected prices and met wholesale suppliers ensuring there would be no shortages during the April new year season.
Minister Bathiudeen said: “The usual Vesak demand and price increases are absent this year. Our consumers need not worry about any shortages in the Vesak season due to low prices and good supply.”
According to Media Secretary for the Essential Food Commodities Importers and Traders Association (EFCITA), Hemaka Fernando, the market supply on the eve of this Vesak season is favourable, with stable stocks and declining prices. Wholesale prices of several essential items have dropped this year in comparison to Vesak days of last year.
“This year’s wholesale situation in Pettah market is such that the prices are extremely down. Big onion wholesale price per kilo last May was Rs. 78-80 but today it’s as low as Rs. 62-63 per kilo. White sugar (imported, refined) wholesale price per kilo last May was Rs. 103-105 but today Rs. 95-96. Red split lentils wholesale price per kilo last May was Rs. 175-185 but today its Rs. 135-145. These are the main products used during Vesak season and their low prices greatly help the consumers for their Vesak needs.”
He stated that the low prices were also a result of Ministers Bathiudeen and Karunanayake’s visit to inspect the Pettah market suppliers on 7 April and giving them directions to keep continued supplies.
“All rice varieties under approved MRPs are also observed and supplied at the specified MRPs by the wholesale market, without any shortages. Therefore overall, there is a surplus of the supply of food commodities, rather than a scarcity. Still, one significant trend needs to be mentioned about this year’s season – in comparison to 2016 Vesak season, this year there is a 30% fall in sales of all island-wide wholesale centres during Vesak in Dambulla, Meegoda, Welisara, Kandy, Colombo and Matara economic centres. This is understandable since the prolonged two-year drought has struck the economy of the farmer community. One can blame the Government for the drought situation but it’s beyond the control of the Government.”
Despite the supplier side constraint, consumers are seeing an extremely satisfying situation with very low prices in the market which are very affordable, he added, noting that this would greatly benefit the dansals of the season. “We at EFCITA wish a blessed Vesak for all,” Mr. Fernando concluded.
The excess stocks resulting from the fall in sales in economic centres also ensures consumers of uninterrupted commodity supplies during the Vesak season.
The items identified by the Government as “essential” are chicken meat, red dhal, designated rice types, sprats, chickpeas, green gram, canned fish, white flour, white sugar, full cream milk powder, B onions, potatoes, dried chillies, dried fishes, Maldive fish and Sustagen.