Lanka threatens to use force against rice hoarders
Sri Lanka Monday warned it will use security forces and the police to crack down on traders suspected of hoarding rice following government-imposed price controls, officials said.
Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardena ordered the police to use tough emergency laws to crack down on wholesale dealers who say they are unable to sell rice at prices specified by the government.
On Thursday, Gunawardena set a maximum retail price of the most popular Samba rice at 70 rupees a kilogramme (65 US cents), but traders said it was blow their cost.
The government has now set up a consumer court to punish dealers who violate the price ceiling.
Those who hide stocks or mislead the public by selling at a higher price are breaking the law, Commerce Secretary R.M.K. Ratnayake said.
"So far, we have not had to use force to break open rice stores. We are still talking to the traders to convince them to issue stocks at the new price," Ratnayake said.
However, some wholesale shops in Colombo remained closed on Monday while talks were on to reach a price compromise.