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The Cabinet of Ministers has approved a proposal to import 100,000 metric tons of rice as the price of rice in the domestic market continues to soar, it is reported.

Accordingly, the proposal submitted by Minister of Trade Dr. Bandula Gunawardena was approved by the Cabinet yesterday (21).

The Ministry of Trade said that the decision to import rice was taken as the rice producers continue to maintain an artificial rice shortage despite agreeing to implement programmes with the objective of thwarting attempts to create an artificial rice shortage concealing the rice and paddy stocks and raising prices.

The Ministry said although the importation of rice and other essential commodities has been completely stopped in order to protect the local farmer and rice producer, this practice of hiking the prices by rice producers and traders with the intention of exploiting the public interest and government policy cannot be allowed to continue.

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage repeatedly stressed in the past few months that Sri Lanka has become self-sufficient in rice and that there is no requirement to import.

However, the government said it will move ahead with the decision to import 100,000 metric tonnes of rice to deprive unscrupulous rice producers and traders from exploiting public interest and government policy.

Meanwhile, former JVP MP Samantha Vidyaratne said that the government should clearly state whether these stocks of rice that are to be imported have been produced with organic fertilisers.

Citing the government's decision to ban chemical fertilisers, he said that the government should ensure that it will only import rice produced with organic fertilisers.