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State wholesaler assures price uniformity for staple foods

The State Trading Organisation plans to cover labour and transportation costs.



The State Trading Organisation announced Sunday that staple foodstuff will be sold on all islands at the same price as the capital Malé with effect on April 1.

Briefing the press, STO managing director Hussain Amru said the company plans to cover the cost of labour and transportation to bring down retail prices of rice, flour and sugar in the outer atolls.

The bulk of rice, flour and sugar sold in the Maldives is imported by the state-owned wholesaler and sold at prices set by the economic development ministry. Prices are significantly lower in Malé than the rest of the country due to transportation costs.

Eliminating price variations was a campaign pledge of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

The STO’s new boss insisted the policy would not “burden the company or the government budget.” Additional expenses would be covered by savings made through operational changes, he said.

“From April 1 onwards, shops across the country must sell staple food items at the price fixed by the economic ministry. This means it should be available at the same price in Malé, in Addu and even in Hoarafushi,” Amru said.

Sales agents will be appointed, he added, urging the authorities and local councils to ensure that staples are sold at the fixed rate.

Interested parties were invited to submit proposals and one-year agreements would be signed after an open bidding process, STO officials told reporters.

In the capital, a kilo of rice is presently sold for MVR4.80 (US$0.3), a kilo of sugar for MVR4.82 and a kilo of flour for MVR3.80.

In April last year, the previous administration reduced prices to rates before a hike caused by an unpopular subsidy cut in 2016.