The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), on Tuesday (19), instructed the Sri Lanka Tea Board to submit a report within three months detailing the outcomes of all the money they spend on promoting tea.
Chairman of COPE, Prof. Ranjith Bandara made this directive when it was revealed that the Tea Board had spent about Rs 4.6 billion on an advertising campaign which had yielded no results.
It was also revealed that the Tea Board was operating without filling four key vacancies.
Chairman of the Board Niraj de Mel said that they were not able to recruit new people due to the recent economic crisis.
However, COPE Chairman pointed out that it was in 2016 that the Cabinet of Ministers authorized the recruitment of a Deputy Director General – Marketing. Prof. Bandara: “This was before the crisis. There is a vacancy for the post of Director HR & Administration.”
Assistant Director, HR & Administration Sajini de Silva: “The board of directors decided that there was no need to hire anyone for the post. We have informed this to COPE in 2018. We didn’t ask for this post, it was the Cabinet of Ministers that decided to create this post.
Ranjith Bandara – “So you didn’t recruit?”
Sajini de Silva- “We decided not to.”
MP Anura Priyadharshana Yapa – “So you have ignored a decision by the Cabinet. How can you decide to ignore Cabinet directives?”
Sajini de Silva: “The former Chairman informed this to COPE in 2018.”
Anura Priyadharshana Yapa – “Don’t tell this to COPE. Tell this to the Cabinet of Ministers.”
MP S.M. Marikkar: “You say there is no need for this post but the Tea Board has decided to carry out an advertising campaign amounting to 4.6 billion rupees. A lot of advance payments had been made. But not a single advert has been aired or published.”
Tea Board Director Promotion Pavithri Peiris: “We have spent 1.4 million US Dollars on the campaign for creative content.”
Prof. Bandara: “Mr. Chairman, we have spent billions but we have not been able to capture the market. We will give you three months. Within this time, we want you to give us a report on what are the outcomes of all the money you spent.”