The government has streamlined the distribution of fertilizer to all crops, including paddy, enabling the cultivators to buy whatever fertilizer they need on subsidized rates without any restriction on the quantum, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa said. The Minister was addressing the heads of government media and senior public officials.
This meeting was attended by Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella and Youth Affairs Minister Dullas Alahapperuma. He said, the government is spending Rs 50,000 million on fertilizer subsidy per year to promote food production and to enable the farmers to earn a reasonable income while protecting the needs of the consumer.
The government has done away with the system issuing permits for the purchase of fertilizer. Whoever wants to purchase fertilizer they could either purchase from the government or the private sector fertilizer outlets, the Minister said.
Minister Rajapaksa further said that, earlier the fertilizer subsidy was enjoyed by only a small segment of land holders, however now this is extended to everybody so that they can purchase whatever quantum of fertilizer they need over the counter.
A 50 kg bag of fertilizer is sold to the cultivator at Rs 350. This is valued at Rs 3,500 in the open market. In this manner the paddy cultivator only pays 10 percent of the total value of fertilizer, while the government subsidizes 90 percent of the total value.
Sri Lanka is the only country in the world which is giving the fertilizer subsidy for the farmers continuously for six years in other words for 12 paddy cultivation seasons. The government also gives a 65 percent subsidy on the fertilizer of other food grain cultivation including vegetable cultivation.
The open market value of 50 kgs of MOP fertilizer is Rs 3,500. Government sells this to the cultivator at Rs 1,200 and pays the balance of Rs 2,300 to the companies which sell fertilizer and provide subsidy to protect the local farmer.
The open market value of 50 kgs of urea fertilizer is Rs 3,000, the government sells this to the cultivator at Rs 1,200 and pays the balance of Rs 1,800 to the companies which sell fertilizer and provide subsidy to protect the local farmer.
There is another fertilizer known as the mixed fertilizer which is a blend of urea and MOP fertilizer which is sold in the open market for Rs 3,200 but sold to the farmer at a subsidized rate of Rs 1,300 per 50 kg bag.
According to a senior officer of the Coconut Development Ministry there can be 64 coconut trees in a one acre plot of land and each tree needs one kilo each of urea fertilizer, MOP fertilizer, ERP fertilizer and dolomite fertilizer per year. ERP and dolomite fertilizer are sold in the open market at a very reduced price.
Government continues to impose an import levy on potato and onions when the cultivation season is on for these two crops to protect the local potato and onion cultivators. Due to these steps local cultivators are protected and their produce sold at a lower price than the imported potatoes and onions.
Rajapaksa further said that, the government instead of getting bouquets is now getting brick bats from the opposition parties who are spreading untruths that the private sector pension scheme will take away the rights of private sector employees.
He said that the government had not succeeded in informing the private sector employee, because we have failed to gear our awareness programme properly.
The Minister said that, the private sector pension scheme will not take away the rights of the employees to benefit from EPF, ETF and gratuity. He said that while enjoying these three benefits the private sector employees after completing ten years of service after joining pension scheme will be entitled to the private sector pension benefits.
The Minister also said that if an employee is unable to complete ten years of service after joining the pension scheme the necessary amendments will be introduced to this Act to enable them also to benefit from the private sector pension scheme. The Minister said that, the government will take immediate action to implement and awareness programme on the benefits of the private sector pension scheme.