Sri Lanka plantations industry demands former benefits

Oct 01, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s plantations industry is demanding the release of funds taken as an export tax and is asking to treated as exporters under the value added tax regime as they were before, to help cope with a recent wage hike to workers. “We’ve got to see where we can get some redress in addressing cash flow issues created by the wage increase,” said Dhamitha Perera, chairman of the Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA).

The PA represents 20 regional plantations corporations (RPCs) that run tea, rubber and coconut estates.

“The state can intervene and provide the benefits we used to enjoy. We’re not asking for something new. Only to restore what we had.”

A key demand was the disbursement of funds raised from a tax on tea exports which are meant to be ploughed back into the industry.

“We ask that the cess of four rupees a kilo recovered at the point of export be made available to the industry as in the past,” Perera told a news conference.

“We export about 300 million kilos of tea each year and at four rupees the collection is about 1.2 billion rupees a year.” The funds were needed to support replanting of aging tea bushes on estates and factory modernisation to meet stringent consumer demands.

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