Sri Lanka plantations minister fights to retain control over tea fund

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Minister of Plantation Industries Navin Dissanayake said he was fighting with the Treasury to retain control over a fund created to promote Ceylon tea in overseas markets by raising money from a tax on exports.

“I’m now fighting with the Treasury on the tea fund which we got for promotion,” he told a news conference held to announce a series of events planned globally to mark the 150th anniversary of the tea industry in the island in 2017.

“I strongly believe it (the fund) should be with the Tea Board. This is not a personal issue but on principle. We have to fight for our corner – as an industry.”
Sri Lanka Tea Board chairman Rohan Pethiyagoda said the fund now had raised US$35 million which is to be invested on a global promotional campaign next year.

Dissanayake said the government aims to award the contract for an international tea marketing campaign shortly.

“We’re on the verge of awarding the international marketing campaign,” he said. “It was held up by red tape and bureaucracy.”

Sri Lanka’s tea industry has strongly opposed a reported government move to take over a cess fund charged from exports in order to promote Ceylon tea globally, and demanded that if not, the cess be suspended.

The Tea Promotion and Marketing Levy of Rs3.50 was introduced by the Sri Lanka Tea Board in October 2010 and charged on every kilogram of tea exported from Sri Lanka.

It was to be used exclusively for the worldwide promotion of Ceylon tea under the stewardship of the Promotion and Marketing Committee of the Sri Lanka Tea Board.
(COLOMBO, Dec 08, 2016)

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