Sri Lanka tea industry not getting cess funds

July 01, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tea industry has said funds collected through a government cess on exports which are supposed to be used for the benefit of the trade are not forthcoming. Avi de Silva, chairman of the Colombo Tea Traders™ Association, said insufficient monies disbursed from the cess fund were making worse the difficulties of the industry which had to grapple with growing competition and tougher food standards.

The government needed to take some action over the disbursement of cess funds “if we do not wish to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs,” de Silva told the association’s annual general meeting recently.

“Cess funds collected from the industry have, in the past year or two, been absorbed directly by the Consolidated Fund of the Treasury,” he said.

As a consequence, neither the plantations industries ministry, the Sri Lanka Tea Board nor the tea trade have a say in how the funds are spent.

Funds disbursed from the tea cess fund were woefully inadequate for research and development, replanting, factory development, and brand building and advertising, de Silva said.

“This situation must change, if Ceylon Tea is to survive the vicissitu