Consumers in a vegetable soup
Daily Mirror Editorial
Dec 15, 2011

Whatever the decisions taken by the authorities, the tradersí organizations and the farmers themselves, it is always the consumers who happen to be at the receiving end.

The newest regulation imposed by the Ministry of Trade that plastic crates are mandatory when transporting fruits and vegetables, saw hundreds of farmers and traders in various parts of the country, taking to roads to express vehemently their displeasure over the move. Their violent reactions which almost bordered on madness, gave the impression that something has seriously gone amiss when setting up the new rule. It may be true that using safe transportation methods can preserve the freshness of such perishable products and scale down wastage; yet by making such a move during the festive season, all the while knowing it would be pelting stones at a hornetís nest, the authorities have committed a grave blunder. Lack of foresight on the part of the decision-makers certainly does them discredit.

It may be true that the matter had been in and out of the limelight for the last few months, yet, the authorities should have known better than to arbitrarily compel the traders to use plastic crates, despite their outcry. As the ultimate authority that is responsible for tradersí, farmersí and consumersí welfare, the Trade Ministry should have first taken into consideration the grievances and difficulties one faces in resorting to the new method.

The Ministerís statement subsequent to the pandemonium, said the Ministry would be providing transportation and plastic crates free of charge, even though it would not, at any rate, change the regulations. He also mentioned that the move would bring down the prices of vegetables and fruits Ďin the long run.í While making one wonder whether how one new regulation can perform a miracle of such a magnitude, it certainly begs the question as to why the decisionmakers exhibit such an obduracy without leaving the choice of adopting or suggesting changes to the rule, to the public.

But, above all, be it a hike in fuel prices, an increase in electricity fares and or even an increase in tax for consumer goods, it is the average consumer who is victimized by it. The new plastic crate law does not seem to be any different. It is therefore, imperative that all parties concerned see eye-to-eye in the matter and come to a consensus that does not throw the stale soup down the drain with the helpless consumer in it.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka