Traders blame GoSL for high prices for goods in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Sunday, 24 June 2007, 03:21 GMT]
Jaffna Peninsula Traders Society blamed the Sri Lanka Government for the artificially high price for essential goods created by measures adopted by the office of the Commissioner of Essential Services (CES) in shipping goods to Jaffna peninsula, sources close to Traders Union said. CES’s insistence on shipping essential goods by three cargo vessels precluded using less expensive alternatives by the Jaffna Government Agent, Co-operative Societies and private enterprises, has resulted in soaring prices, sources added.

The Peninsula Traders mentioned the following reasons for their grievances related to the inflated prices of essential commodities in Jaffna peninsula. The Commissioner of Essential Services (CES) office refuses permission to private traders to hire cargo ships to Jaffna peninsula to transport essential commodities. The price per metric ton (MT) in the three cargo ships charted by CES has risen to $70 from $60 which was the tariff charged when the Government Agent (GA) Jaffna was in charge of shipping essential goods to Jaffna peninsula when the A9 land route came under Sri Lanka Army closure in August 2006, civil society sources said.

Though traders can use cargo ships at $30 per MT to import essential commodities from South India, GoSL has issued directives that all goods to Jaffna peninsula to issue from Colombo harbour. While the CES office cites security reasons for this directive, traders suspect that several officials stand to benefit financially from this arrangement, in addition to the treasury which receives nearly Rs.22 million on each shipment, traders union officials charged.

Cement, for example, sold for Rs.600 rupees in other places of Sri Lanka, costs Rs.1800 in Jaffna peninsula. Prices of many other goods fetch three-fold prices in Jaffna compared to the prices in other areas of the island.

Traders Society in Jaffna further said that complaints and representations, made to the relevant higher authorities repeatedly, have failed to produce any positive response from the Sri Lanka Government.


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