Presidential Committee on tea begins talks
The tea industry’s continued relevance to the country is proven by the fact that the Presidential Committee appointed to look into the issues of the sector commenced discussions with the stakeholders on Monday.
As a data gathering exercise the committee held its first meeting with the relevant stakeholders from the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs), the Tea Board, the Plantation Ministry, tea growers, factory owners and exporters.
Headed by the President’s Chief of Staff H. M. P. Hitisekara, the Secretary to the Ministry of Plantation Industries J.A. Ranjith, Secretary to the Ministry of Labour R.P.R. Rajapaksa, Secretary to the Treasury Dr. R.H.S Samaratunga, Chairman of Tea Board Lucille Wijewardena, Commissioner General of Labour J. Wimalaweera, Chairman of the Tea Small Holdings Development Authority, a representative representing Planters’ Association of Ceylon, Sri Lanka Tea Factory Owners Association, Sri Lanka Tea Brokers’ Association and Tea Exporters Association of Sri Lanka have been appointed for the committee.
The committee is expected to recommend the different methods to be adopted for replanting and in this context the importance of replanting was discussed at the meeting, Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman Mr. Wijewardena said.
At the discussion the stakeholders were asked to come up with their issues in the industry to commence a dialogue on the matters that concern the tea industry.
The basic issue that came to the fore was the fact that replanting had not been carried out and in this respect the quality issues were identified as the symptoms of not replanting.
In this respect, the committee looked at how a methodology would be worked out to provide 13 million good quality plants per 1,000 hectares.
The matter of wages was also raised at this meeting where it was discussed how this every, two yearly collective agreement entered into between the RPCs and the unions could be changed and in this respect discussions also centred on the outgrower model as proposed by the plantation companies.
The smallholder issues will also be addressed at the next meeting of the committee that is expected to be held later this month.
At the next meeting the crucial issues of the industry were expected to be identified in a bid to ensure they could submit a comprehensive report on these findings to the President.
Source - http://www.sundaytimes.lk/190317/business-times/presidential-committee-on-tea-begins-talks-340654.html?fbclid=IwAR0QLejgImUzIJUeoeia0sNqxzVsQfpSy3P6Aaf38_3NvUI0HMHLSmEt3z0