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Cabinet decides to provide economic relief to the tea industry

The government is proposing to grant relief to Tea Factory owners by relieving them from their debt burden, Co-Cabinet Spokesman Ramesh Pathirana told reporters today Dec 19.

Pathirana, who is also Plantations Minister said that the government expects to cut debt owned by these industrialists by 20-30 per cent and extend the grace period given for repayment by 6-12 months following a discussion with the Central Bank.

Further, he said that the cabinet has also decided to create a legal framework within which the government can stop the auctioning of lands belonging to the tea owners by the banks at least for one year after discussing with the banks.

The minister also said cabinet discussed the possibility of using the Tea Promotion fund of Sri Lanka Tea board which amounts to Rs 500 million to help them repay their debts and for the revival of the local tea industry.

Further, the cabinet has also decided to set up a simple process to obtain permits for the mining clay instead of the complex process which already exists for brick, tile and pottery industry. 

So through the new process, the permits can be obtained at the divisional secretariat and Grama Niladari level.

Pathirana said through this process the government expects especially to promote the local brick industry so that the asbestos would be replaced with bricks in future constructions.

Also, he said the cancellation of permits for the transportation of sand, clay and soil will continue until the final report from the committee appointed to study its effect is submitted to the cabinet.

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