The National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection (NMCRP) called on President Maithripala Sirisena to sack officials who did not enforce the controlled prices imposed on 24 essential goods.

Writing to Sirisena, Chairman of the NMCRP, Ranjith Withanage said that as per the list published by the Ministry of Finance on May 02 containing the goods and services which were exempted from Value-Added Tax (VAT), essential goods also had had VAT added.
The said goods include, skinless chicken meat at Rs 480 a kilogram (kg), dried sprats at Rs 410 a kg, dhal at Rs 169 a kg, dried fish with bone at Rs 1,100 a kg, dried sardinella at Rs 425 a kg, gram at Rs 169 a kg, local milk powder at Rs 295 per 400 grams (g), white sugar with container at Rs 95 a kg, white sugar without container at Rs 87 a kg, full cream milk powder at Rs 325 per 400 g, full cream milk powder at Rs 810 a kg, the nutritional supplement Sustagen at Rs 1,500, wheat flour at Rs 87 a kg, mung beans at Rs 285 a kg, imported dried sprats at Rs 400 a kg, coriander at Rs 350 a kg, black gram at Rs 300 a kg, Maldive fish at Rs 1,740 a kg, turmeric at Rs 800 a kg, dried chillie at Rs 400 a kg, cement at Rs 870 per 50 kg, limey cement at Rs 870 per 50 kg, masonry cement at Rs 870 per 50 kg and tinned fish at Rs 140 per 425 g.  The prices became applicable following two extraordinary gazettes issued on 2015 February 20 and 2015 November 24 by the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA).

Of the aforementioned goods, according to the Finance Ministry list only wheat flour, sugar and milk powder did not have VAT imposed, he noted.

“The consumer is facing great difficulty trying to survive. The CAA is playing mum, thereby allowing traders to rip off consumers at will. Government Ministers stating that essential goods would not have VAT added is a lie. What gazette or gazettes are applicable with regards to the control of prices? Sirisena must urgently look into this,” he added. (RLJ)