PA challenges govt. to prove its paddy purchase claim

By Divaina Corr Anura Balasuriya

PA spokesman Sarath Amunugama yesterday charged that the government had only released Rs.15 million to purchase paddy although the government had announced Rs.450 million has been allocated for the purpose.

Addressing a press briefing at the Opposition Leaders’ office, MP Amunugama said the government is saying that paddy is being purchased at Rs. 13 and Rs 13.50 a kilo, the real prices in villages range from Rs.10 to Rs.11 a kilo. He said this is the price in areas like Kurunagala and Polonnaruwa. He challenged the government to prove that the situation is as they claim it to be.

He said that farmers are in a difficult situation at the moment due to these reasons. He said during the PA regime a cover was given to the government banks to give loans to purchase paddy and that had been removed by the present government.

He said that the government is also facing a lack of storage facilities and the this season will be over when the storage facilities ordered from Israel arrive in the country.

He said that the government does not have a proper vision nor a plan regarding agriculture in the country. He said that under present conditions the farmers does not have any other alternative but to commit suicide.

He said that fertiliser prices had increased from 150 percent when compared with the previous PA regime. "The price of a hundredweight of Urea has increased from Rs.675 to Rs. 825," he said.

He said that the farmers cannot bear the imposing of VAT as well on insecticides, pesticides and agricultural implements. He also said that the government is planning to impose a water tax and the proposal on the recommendation of the Asian Development Bank is under consideration by a parliamentary committee.

He said that they would agitate in the coming weeks to make the government aware of the plight of the farmers.