Colombo, September 2 (Xinhua): The Sri Lankan government has denied Western media reports that the Asian country was facing a food shortage or had declared a food emergency, and assured that ample food stocks were available in the country, local media reported here Thursday.
Ajith Nivard Cabraal, state minister of money and capital market and state enterprise reforms, was quoted in local media reports as saying that ample food stocks including rice and sugar were available in the country and fears of a food shortage were completely unfounded.
A recent government statement said that an artificial shortage of certain items had been created by certain importers and wholesale traders who had hoarded stocks of food items including rice and sugar.
Responding to the situation, the government had appointed a commissioner general of essential services.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa earlier this week declared emergency regulations on supplying and selling at higher prices or hoarding of essential food items including paddy, rice, and sugar.
However, officials said this did not mean the country was facing a food shortage and that work was done to prevent basic food items from being sold at skyrocketing prices.
Accordingly, instructions were issued to raid such warehouses that were hoarding essential food items and confiscate the food items which were then ordered to be released to the market at affordable prices.
“The president did not take the decision with the intention of creating difficulties for the business community. He took this step against fraudulent traders who unfairly exploit consumers,” Cabraal said.
Sri Lanka is presently under a nationwide quarantine curfew which is scheduled to be lifted on Sept. 6 due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic which has infected over 444,000 people since March last year.