Tea veteran Anslem Peiris steps down from CTTA with mixed feelings
The outgoing Chairman of the Ceylon Tea Traders Association (CTTA) Anslem Peiris stepped down last week with mixed feelings as the industry had gone through a number of issues due to the adverse actions of those in high office.
Hitting hard at politicians in high office, he said that it was due to these “irresponsible persons in high office” that the tea industry was badly affected on a number of fronts. He made these observations delivering his speech at the 125th AGM of the CTTA held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo on August 10.
He noted that authorities needed to understand the value of business and added, “I relinquish with mixed feelings”.
Political interventions in wage negotiations is a problem that only leads to unnecessary protracted deliberations, Mr. Peiris pointed out.
The irrational ban on glyphosate by those in high office that never listened to the industry led to the loss of the Japanese market in itself as the Japan turned to other countries to buy their teas as Ceylon Tea continued to have a high reside level.
In addition, he reminded how the actions of the high office had caused the industry damage to its reputation when the Russian nearly banned tea imports from Sri Lanka after an insect was found inside one consignment of tea.
Moreover, the Easter setback of 4/21 was unimaginable and he explained how they had obtained the services of the security forces to search the chambers prior to the conduct of the tea auctions that week.
Prior to the commencement of the CTTA AGM, the industry launched its latest book titled “Tea Men” which was noted to be a comprehensive 125-year record from 1894-2019 with a detailed description of all the minutes of the board meetings.
Chief Guest Plantations Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake insisted that he had an “excellent relationship” with the industry noting that this would be the last time he would address them as their minister since things were likely to change by this time next year.
He recalled the past few years as having been “challenging” ones as he had to face issues from within his own party when the then Finance Minister had had to fight with him to take away the monies collected by the industry for promotional work to be directed to the Treasury, However, he averted his situation at the time, he said.
Minister Dissanayake said that the glyphosate issue was a self-imposed one and should never have happened and pointed out, “I stood up with you”.
He also noted that they were able to resolve the Russian problem at the time and now have been in discussion with the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to overcome the issue of sanctions imposed on Iran that has resulted in a loss of tea trade between the two countries.
The minister said that measures had been taken to overcome the issue of sugar in teas by adopting baseline figures and as a result in the past two years they have been able to stop production in 13 factories so far.
Penalising the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) for inefficiency was required and in future this needs to be looked at, the minister said.
Reforms need to get underway at the RPCs he said adding that greater investment and innovative things was required on the plantations. Another failure, he explained was the lack of scientific approach to farming.
The new Chairman of the CTTA is Jayantha Karunaratne who called to build on the legacy and tradition of the industry but not to forget change is needed.