The Government today declared the services of rice mill  owners as  an essential service under the COVID – 19 quarantine process and fixed a maximum retail price on five varieties of rice.

The maximum  retail price of a kilo of Keeri Samba was fixed at Rs. 125, White / Red Samba - Steamed/Boiled (excluding Suduru Samba) Rs. 90/- per kg, White / Red Raw SambaRs. 90/- per kg, White / Red Nadu - Steamed /Boiled (excluding Mottaikarupan and Attakari)Rs. 90/- per kg and White / Red Raw RiceRs. 85/- per kilo.

The Maximum retail price was announced by the Consumer Affairs Authority by Gazette notification last night.

Earlier in the day, the President Media Division (PMD) said in  news release that rice mills owners must produce rice in their respective areas using paddy stocks in their possession as the provision of essential foods and rice production, storage and distribution is imperative to ensure food security.

Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundara informed the Acting Inspector General of Police , the Director General of Health Services, the Commissioner General of Food and the Chairman of the Consumer Affairs Authority to take measures enabling small scale rice mill owners to distribute rice stocks within their respective Divisional Secretariat Divisions, medium scale owners to distribute within the district and large scale owners to distribute in the entire country.

A harvest of around three  million metric tons of paddy has been recorded this season but the quantity of rice that can be produced is equivalent to 2/3 of that amount.

Rice mill owners were informed that increasing rice prices or hampering the supply of rice pose a major impediment to the effective implementation of quarantine activities and instructed them to give the highest possible priority to maintaining  food security during this period when the people are restricted to their homes and food and other essential items are being delivered to the door-step of the people.

The Osu Sala, pharmacies and banking services remain in the category of essential services.