With the increase in fuel prices triggering an uproar with an Opposition inspired no-confidence motion against Energy Minister, Udaya Gammanpila also on the cards, the government is expected to decide on the price revision sought by Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) and milk food importers shortly.
Litro and Laugfs Gas have asked for a price revision of Rs. 750 per 12.5kg domestic cylinder, while companies importing milk food have sought an increase of Rs. 350 per one kilogram pack and Rs. 140 on a 400 gram pack.
Speculation was rife that agreement was reached to push up domestic gas prices by Rs. 400 per 12.5kg cylinder, but the Executive Director of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA), Thushan Gunawardena clarified that the regulator has not approved an increase so far.
He said that on milk food also there was still no firm commitment on an increase though discussions were held with importers.
He said that at one such discussion, the representative of one of the companies was asked how much his Managing Director drew as his monthly remuneration and the value of the vehicle he used.
“After checking back, he replied that the MD drew Rs. 700,000 monthly and the luxury vehicle he used was worth Rs. 18 million”, Gunawardena noted.
These companies should be able to prune operational costs in these difficult times without seeking price revisions as a first option, he said.
Trade Minister, Bandula Gunawardena said the government doesn’t import commodities and when private companies which do so seek a price increase on reasonable grounds, it has to be considered to strike a balance.
“If milk food importers are not granted a price revision on the basis of realistic factors, they will stop imports and the products will no longer be available”, the Minister told journalists last week.
He said that global milk food prices have shot up by 32% coupled with enhanced shipping charges and the depreciation of the rupee against the dollar.
Gunawardena noted that 90,000 metric tons of milk food is imported to the country annually.
Asked whether a milk food price increase has been granted, the Minister replied, “that’s a matter for the CAA to decide on”.
The CAA official said that in terms of a gazette notification issued, an action was filed in the Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court to ensure compliance as, in case domestic 12.5kg were not freely available, Litro Gas Lanka as the manufacturer and its respective distributor/trader will be held responsible and liable for prosecution.
He said the CAA has received more than one thousand complaints from consumers about the non-availability of 12.5kg cylinders in the market. This has forced them to buy the new 18-litre hybrid cylinders.