SL’s food inflation to come down next year: Trade Minister
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka’s key inflation rate rose to 1.5% in October from 1.3% a month ago, the statistics department said.
The Colombo Consumer Price Index (LKCCPI=ECI), a leading indicator for broader national prices, tracks inflation in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s biggest city.
Food prices fell 5.2% in October after declining 5.2% in September, from a year earlier, the Department of Census and Statistics said in a statement. Prices for non-food items, however, climbed slightly to 4.9% in October after rising 4.7% in September.
The Trade, Commerce and Food Security Ministry this week said food inflation in the country is expected to contract further in 2024, with efforts also being taken to trim the food prices wherever possible.
The government has called for the relevant departments to assess how much food prices can be controlled next year, Minister Nalin Fernando said, addressing a press conference on ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’, at the Presidential Media Centre, this week.
“Food prices and safety are top priorities for our government. We have taken several steps to strengthen the economy and collect the required amount of taxes,” he said.
The most recent move in this regard is increasing the sugar tax from 25 cents to Rs.50.
“We believe that by successfully implementing these measures, we can further reduce food inflation in the coming year,” added Fernando.
Efforts are also underway to understand food production and security in the country, so that the price controls can take place.
Fernando noted that the information from the relevant departments would help to ensure the availability of essential goods at affordable prices for consumers next year; it will also help to understand the country’s import needs.
Sri Lanka at present imports about 30 million eggs per month, to help meet the domestic demand and ensure that there is no shortage of eggs during the festive season.
The government plans to continue egg imports, until December 31, 2023 or until the local production has recovered.
The price of chicken meat has also been reduced from Rs.1700 per kilogramme to Rs.1150 per kilogramme, after the government negotiated with producers.
The government is committed to maintaining this lower price until the end of the year and has informed the producers that it is ready to import chicken meat if necessary.
Fernando added that to protect consumers, the government has also introduced a control price of Rs.275 for one kilogramme of sugar.
Further, the sugar stocks of 12 of the 14 sugar importers are monitored daily, to ensure that there is no shortage.
The officials have been instructed to raid the traders who sell sugar above the control price.
In September 2023, the food prices continued to deflate, registering a decline of 5.2 percent on a year-on-year (YoY) basis, from 5.4 percent in August.