- Following discussions with factory owners Tea Board told to complete probes and allow reopening within a week
- Factory owners complain about livelihood losses to about 100,000 people due to closures
- PM warns tough action on substandard or refuse tea sellers
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday directed the Tea Board to investigate 13 tea factories in the Central Province that had their production suspended and reopen within a week.
Rajapaksa gave this directive during a discussion held with the owners of these tea factories at Temple Trees. According to the statement released by the Prime Minister’s Media Division the factory owners had appealed for the opportunity to recommence production as closure of the factories had resulted in about 100,000 people losing their livelihoods.
“During the discussion the tea factory owners appealed to the Prime Minister to conduct an in-depth investigation and allow the factories to recommence operations. They had also cited the need to return to manufacturing tea as essential to the wellbeing of the workers,” the statement said.
Accordingly, Prime Minister Rajapaksa had directed the Tea Board to conduct the necessary investigations promptly and if there were no outstanding issues allow the factories to restart production.
The Prime Minister, however, cautioned the factory owners against manufacturing substandard or refuse tea and warned that tough action will be taken against any errant production facilities.
In May tea exports recorded a reduction of 13.8% earning $ 108.3 million compared to $ 125.6 million during the same month in 2019. In the first five months of the year tea exports had dipped 20.1% to $ 456.7 million from $ 571.8 million in the same period the previous year.
The industry, much like the rest of the economy, has been hit by COVID-19, though the Government gave special provisions for plantations to continue production during curfew. The industry is expected to make moderate gains if the external environment improves, according to experts.