People ask Govt to set up more co-ops and 'Lak Sathosa' outlets
The Sunday Observer last week interviewed a section of the public and
also the Trade, Marketing Development, Co-operative and Consumer Affairs
Minister Bandula Gunawardana on the increase in the cost- of- living in
the country. Below are the excerpts of the interview.
Minister Bandula Gunawardana said the taxes of 14 essential consumer
items had already been waived off and therefore consumers cannot blame
the Government for price increases of these items.
"If consumers purchase their goods from co-operatives, budget shops
or `Lak Sathosa' outlets, they can reap the benefits of the price
reduction," Minister Gunawardana also said in addition to 200 new 'Lak
Sathosa' outlets to be set up countrywide within the next three months,
300 new co-operative shops will also be established, especially in rural
"Therefore, I request consumers to visit these institutions to
purchase essential items at low prices," he said. G. Hettiaratchchi
the Government cannot be blamed for the increase of vegetable and
certain other essential food items in the open market, since traders are
in the habit of creating artificial food shortage as a ploy to increase
prices to get undue advantages.
"This flourishing blackmarket will never be stopped unless flying
squad inspectors be deployed to nab errant traders,".
He also wanted the Trade Minister to deploy educated people and not
uneducated politicians to high positions in the Trade Ministry to make
decisions which will be important for future development plans in
co-operatives and `Lak Sathosa'.
A retired principal Kumara Rajakaruna of Walasmulla wants the
Government to cut down taxes on sugar, rice, milk powder and wheat flour
as the current prices of these items have badly been hit poor consumers,
especially in the plantation sector.
He also requests the Trade Ministry to distribute consumer items
through mobile services.
A Bank employee Gunasiri Wijemanna of Haldummulla said whatever the
Government says on the price reduction of essential items in the open
market, the authorities have not taken any step to crackdown traders who
are selling them at unbearable prices.
"Therefore, I suggest the Ministry to make a special investigation
into the distribution of sugar, rice, flour and dhal in the open
Kelum Wijesinghe, a student of Ananda College, said: "People who live
in Colombo will have to spend a large sum of money on coconut and
vegetables, therefore, please sell these two items through Lak Sathosa
outlets in Colombo."
A Managing Director of a garment factory in Athurugiriya, Prasad Samarasinghe
said not only the prices of essential items in the open
market, the prices of fish and vegetable too have gone up.
"I propose the Government to set up fish and vegetable stalls in
every village to sell these items at affordable prices,".
A bakery owner Piyasiri Samaratunga of Peradeniya asked the
Government to enact legislation for bakery owners to make wheat flour
based food items by mixing rice flour and kurakkan flour.
"In that event it will benefit to both rice farmers and chena
A proprietor of a beauty parlour Kavinda Satharasinghe of Colombo
asked the trade Ministry to deploy a flying squad to crack down errant
traders and vegetable vendors who are in the habit of selling short
weight at main markets in Colombo.
A private sector employee Chitrangani Wijewickrame said the price of
vegetables, fish and many essential commodity item including onions and
potatoes have gone up due to artificial shortages created by middlemen.
"Therefore I suggest co-operatives to purchase vegetables straight
from cultivators, so that, the prices can be reduced," he said. R. Weerasinghe of Balangoda asked why the Trade Ministry cannot keep a
fixed price for sugar, dhal and onions according to the price index in
the Colombo market.
"As there is no price control on such important items, private
traders sell them at exorbitant prices," he said.
Yohan Gunathilaka of Panadura said "When the price of wheat flour
goes up by a mere five rupees, some bakery owners are in the habit of
earning a large profit from bread, buns, cakes and other flour based
"This type of blackmarket business must be stopped and I hope the
Ministry will take action against this".
Nuwan Wikramapala of Kaduwela asked the Trade Ministry to set up fish
stalls at 'Lak Sathosa' outlets as super markets are now doing
vegetable, chicken and fish business in their markets.
"If, such a scheme is implemented in 'Lak Sathosa' outlets, it will
be a big relief to all customers.
Schoolteacher Sirimevan Kularatna of Homagama wants the Trade
Ministry to establish co-operative shops at all Government Departments,
so that, employees could purchase dry ration and other items at
An Executive in a private sector institution, Ashani Perera requests
the authorities to introduce mobile co-operative shops in schools to
enable children and their parents to purchase food items. at low prices.
An hotelier, Gamalathge Stephen of Dehiwala said "There is a
co-operative shop in our area and it caters to at least 500 families,
but many people are not in a position to purchase consumer items, since
it closes at 6 pm everyday.
"Therefore I request the authorities to keep it open until 7 pm for
the benefit of office workers.
A university lecturer Gayantha Damunupola said that no co-operatives
in our country has refrigerators and wanted the authorities to frozen
food items, including chicken, ice cream etc.