Tea stakeholders meet PM today to discuss pressing industry issues

27 October 2015 04:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The key stakeholders of the country’s tea industry will be meeting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today to discuss critical current issues in the industry.

“The situation is getting from bad to worse, which may have compelled the Prime Minister to call for this meeting,” Sri Lanka Planters’ Association Chairman Roshan Rajadurei said, speaking of the wage negotiations of the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs).

Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayaka met with the Prime Minister last Wednesday to discuss these issues as well.

Dissanayake had said that some of the major issues were whether to continue the smallholder tea subsidy at a lower scale, whether to intervene and buy tea at higher prices in the Colombo tea auctions with Rs.1 billion, and to issue a new tender for the tea digital marketing campaign.

The tea subsidy, which was allocated Rs.5 billion in the interim budget, had reached Rs.5.4 billion by September, and most industry players criticized it for fostering bad quality tea production and corruption in the low-lying areas.

Other issues to be discussed today will probably include granting of working capital to RPCs and smallholder factories, extending RPC leases, replanting schemes, glyphosate ban and improving the Tea Research Institute.

The other main reason for the present plight of the tea industry is the worsening global macroeconomic conditions.
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