Minister of Trade, Marketing Development, Co-operatives and Consumer Services, Bandula Gunawardena says the Sri Lankan government has granted permission to import wheat flour, rice, cement and milk powder from January 2008.
He further said that 2008 budget has provisions to set up a government body - Commercial and Wholesale Cooperation, to import any essential item that goes scarce in the market. This will enable the government to intervene when private sector importers demand unreasonable price hikes or create deliberate shortage of goods, he added.
At present, there is a severe shortage of cement in the local market and price of a 50kg cement bag is around Rs 700. (US$128/tonne). Recently Prima increased the price of a one kilo of wheat flour by Rs. 9. Government sources said that the items are to be imported through CWC and will be distributed to the market before Sinhala and Hindu New year in 2008.