By Ashwin Hemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent
The Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) need not make profits, but operating under Treasury support with continuous losses was seen as insignificant by Minister of Plantation Industries Mahinda Samarasinghe recently at Parliament.
According to Minister Samarasinghe, the primary objectives of SLTB are to develop the tea industry in Sri Lanka, promotion of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Tea globally, and implemention of regulatory requirements of the tea industry.
“The Tea Board comes under the Treasury. So making profits or loss is not important. Other than the funds for the salaries paid by the Treasury, all monetary requirements for matters including development and recurrent are generated by the Tea Board from the programs it conducts,” said Minister Samarasinghe.
The major regulatory activities of the tea industry cover production, cultivating and replanting, establishment of tea factories, their operation, regulate Colombo Tea Auction, maintain quality standards of tea, and packaging and warehousing requirements framed both under the Sri Lanka Tea Board Law and the Tea Control Act No. 51 of 1957 and the Tea (Tax and Control of Exports) Act No. 16 of 1959.
Responding to UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekara, it was agreed that increased cost of production has directly impacted the tea industry and the Government has already taken measures to increase productivity of all scales of factories, replanting, and allowing of special concessions for tea industry.
SLTB was established on 1 January 1976 by amalgamating the Tea Control Department, Tea Export Commissioner’s Department, Ceylon Tea Propaganda Board, and the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka under the Sri Lanka Tea Board Law No. 14 of 1975 as amended by Act No. 17 of 1985, No. 14 of 1990, No. 29 of 2003 and No. 44 of 2006.