Govt. mulls regulating prices of consumer goods: Samarasinghe

Published : 9:05 am  September 12, 2018 | No comments so far |  |  (105) reads | 

CITY-DM-24-9By Sandun A. Jayasekera

Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said yesterday the government was thinking of introducing regulations through the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) to prevent traders and service providers from increasing the prices of consumer goods and services disproportionately at a time when fuel prices soar monthly. 

Addressing the media at the weekly SLFP news briefing, the minister said the National Economic Commission (NEC) discussed the matter two weeks ago and decided to introduce new regulations to prevent the negative trend as people pay for goods and services excessively, and that this had now become a trend after the monthly fuel price revision. 

The government has increased fuel prices with effect from Monday (10) midnight after a fuel price revision by the official committee appointed for the job. Responding to a journalist, the minister said after introducing the price formula on popular demand, the government could not intervene in decisions taken by the team of officials that review and revise fuel prices on the 10th of each month.   

“The government does not intervene in monthly price revisions carried out by a team of top officials. Sri Lanka depends entirely on imported fuel and domestic prices of fuel are decided by global fuel prices. The current hike in fuel prices in the global market has been influenced by the US trade embargo on Iran and short supply of fuel in the global market,” he said. 

The minister said traders and service providers had taken undue advantage from the monthly fuel price revision as a ruse to jack up prices unfairly and this had to be stopped. 

A permanent official fuel price review committee has been set up comprising representatives from the Finance Ministry, Petroleum Resources Development Ministry, the Presidential Secretariat and Cost of Living Committee, to review the global fuel market and fix the fuel price on the 10th of every month. 

This mechanism will contribute to minimise losses to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CEYPETCO) and lessen the burden on the Treasury. However, the Treasury will continue to absorb any extra liability in the event of an unexpected, steep increase in the global market. 

The import of petroleum products accounts to almost 25% of the value of the total imports annually and in 2017 it amounted to some USD 2,725 million. While the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation is engaged in both refining and distributing a range on petroleum products including petrol, diesel, kerosene oil and heavy fuel, the Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) is engaged only in the distribution of petrol and diesel in the country.