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Politicians interfering with Sri Lanka tea regulation, exporter says

ECONOMYNEXT – A top Sri Lankan tea exporter has said politicians are preventing the proper enforcement of regulations meant to safeguard the vital tea industry and has called for a complete revamp of the way the sector is regulated.

“This once great industry is today heavily regulated by government on the basis of archaic laws and regulations,” said Merrill J Fernando, chairman of Ceylon Tea Services which exports under the Dilmah brand.

“The colonial trading culture is still rigorously preserved with the significant difference that ways of doing business are seriously ineffective,” he has told shareholders in the company’s annual report.

“Government officials are seldom free to enforce regulations; so they are afraid to act. Nearly every decision they make to deal with offenders is reversed through political influence.”

As a result, Fernando said, most regulations intended to protect the industry are in fact, hurting it.

Fernando called for an independent body made up of three expert nominees from government and four from the private sector – all persons of known achievement and integrity – to be tasked with reviewing, radically revamping and replacing the current structures governing the tea industry.
(COLOMBO, Sept 15, 2016)

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