Sri Lanka tea exporters bemoan lack of funds for promotion

July 04, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan exporters of tea, the island’s top export commodity, say they not getting enough funds for marketing even though the government charges a tax on shipments which is meant for tea promotion. But the government subsequently decided to consolidate at the Treasury all cess funds collected on exports of tea, as well as rubber.

The Colombo Tea Traders’ Association has described the move as “a blatant violation of the fundamental principle of the Export Cess Scheme.”

It said that the move meant the cess funds were “for the most part, being squandered on politically orientated initiatives, which brought no return or benefit to the industry.”

It has said the funds should also be used for promoting Sri Lankan owned brands, stimulating value-added exports, facilitating food hygiene initiatives and supplementing research programmes.

Apart from promotion, some of the priority areas identified by the industry for the investment of cess funds are improving productivity through re-planting and better application of fertiliser. Anslem Perera, managing director of Euro Scan, one of the biggest exporters of branded tea, said a tax of four rupees was charged on every kilo of tea exported