J. C Alawathuwala

MP Alawathuwala sheds light on the plight of food expenses


In 2019, the expenditure on the food of an individual living in Colombo or elsewhere in Sri Lanka was between Rs. 6,000 and Rs. 6,500. By 2023, this has increased to between Rs.16,000 to Rs.17,000. That is, the expenditure has tripled.

NewsFirst | November 7, 2023


Partly True

Fact Check

MP Alawathuwala claims that the food expenses have tripled from 2019 to 2023, increasing from LKR6,000-6,500 to LKR 16,000-17,000.

To verify the above claims, FactCheck.lk referred to multiple publications of the Department of Census and Statistics: (1) Price index data on the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI) and National Consumer Price Index (NCPI), (2) Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES).

The MP indicates that the range of values he mentions would be applicable to either the Colombo district or at a national level. FactCheck.lk also found that, though not specified, the MP’s numbers aligned better with monthly (not weekly or annual) expenditure on food.

The 2019 HIES data approximates to average monthly food expenditures being LKR 5,981 per person nationally, and LKR 7,532 in Colombo. The range specified by the MP is in between these two numbers. However, there is no equivalent survey data for 2023 to assess the increase.

Therefore, FactCheck.lk assessed the increase by using the food group index of the CCPI and the NCPI. From January 2019 to October 2023, these indices showed a 2.3-fold and 2.2-fold increase, respectively in the cost of food, which is much less than the MP’s claim of a 3-fold increase.

That is, based on the 2019 HIES data and the changes in the food group index, the 2023 average food expenditure can be estimated at most as LKR 13,320 per person nationally (well below the MP’s range of numbers), and LKR 17,324 per person in Colombo (only slightly above the upper end of the MP’s range).

The MP’s figures for average food expenses in 2019 are inside the range of national level and Colombo district expenses, and his 2023 figures are approximately correct for Colombo. However, he significantly overstates his overarching claim: the extent of the increase in food expenses between 2019 and 2023. He states it as 3-fold (200% increase) when it is 2.3-fold (130% increase) at most.

Therefore, we classify his statement as PARTLY TRUE.

*FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment.

Additional Note: The MP’s figures of LKR 16,000 to LKR 17,000, cited for 2023, are comparable to the Official Poverty Line (OPL) for the same period, which is LKR 16,112 per person nationally and LKR 17,377 in the Colombo district. However, the MP’s claim refers to the overall increase in the average food expenditure, not the increase in the OPL. The increase in the OPL is also 2.3-fold.

Exhibit 1: Food expenditure (2019 to 2023)

*Estimated figures based on the change in the food group index. Department of Census and Statistics.



Department of Census and Statistics. (2023). Monthly CCPI. Retrieved from http://www.statistics.gov.lk/InflationAndPrices/StaticalInformation/MonthlyCCPI


Department of Census and Statistics. (2022). Monthly NCPI. Retrieved from http://www.statistics.gov.lk/InflationAndPrices/StaticalInformation/MonthlyNCPI#gsc.tab=0


Department of Census and Statistics. (2019). Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2019 Final Results. Retrieved from http://www.statistics.gov.lk/IncomeAndExpenditure/StaticalInformation/HouseholdIncomeandExpenditureSurvey2019FinalResults


Department of Census and Statistics. (2021). Poverty Line 2021 Rebase. Retrieved from http://www.statistics.gov.lk/povertyLine/2021_Rebase#gsc.tab=0.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *