Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday warned the cost of living was expected to rise in the next few weeks as traders were faced with a crisis finding US dollars to pay import bills.
Minister Gunawardena told the Sunday Times world market prices had also increased and the prices of milk food, domestic gas, wheat flour and cement, among other items, were set to increase locally.
“We cannot hide the fact we are facing a crisis over US dollars while the world market prices are rising. We cannot afford any more concessions,” the Minister said.
The subject of price increases is set to be taken up at next week’s cabinet meeting before announcing a decision.
Importers who were called for a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa on Friday were told that they would be informed by Tuesday on measures relating to price increases.
Importers had pointed out that due to the insufficient US dollars in local banks, they were unable to clear their goods held up at the Colombo Port. The importers were told to submit a list of banks they were dealing with, enabling the government to intervene to resolve the issues, a leading importer said.
Traders have warned that prices of essential items could also increase due to the short supply of goods.
The Central Bank is also expected to work out and announce concessions for importers within the next two weeks to prevent a continuous increase in prices of goods, Minister Gunawardena said.