CWE brings down some prices

The Co-operative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) has decided to bring down the price of sugar, dhal, rice and tinned fish, according to a senior official. Accordingly, sugar has been brought down to Rs. 33.00 (from 34.50) per kilo; and dhal to Rs 55 (from 57) and Rs 47.50 (from 49) per kilogram, retail and wholesale respectively. The new prices of tinned fish stand at Rs. 59, 45 and 33 for 425g, 230g and 155g respectively. The price of rice has been brought down by 50 cents.

These prices are marginally lower than those in the Pettah Market. Nahil Wijesuriya, Chairman, CWE, confessed to ‘The Sunday Island’ that the CWE has only a small share of the food market and it is unlikely that these price changes will impact the overall market.

"For example, we have maintained the lowest milk food prices for a long time, but it has not effected a price change among other retailers," he said.

K. N. Choksy, Minister of Finance, in his budget speech said that "the CWE has incurred unpardonable financial losses during the previous year due to inefficient financial management".

When asked if the relief offered to the consumer through these price changes would make things worse, Wijesuriya said that in the case of rice and sugar there was no option.

"There is a declining market for sugar and we are importing only a month’s requirement. With respect to rice, we need to clear stocks," he said. Wijesuriya believes that it is important to maintain a 15% margin if the CWE is to recover.

R. K. Naotunna, who is a regular patron of CWE outlets, welcomed the price reductions. "Consumers are hard hit by the rising cost of living. The CWE is all we have," he said.

"If the CWE doesn’t offer us relief, why should it exist?" he asked.