The selection and appointment of a CEO for the Tea Association will be the first official step in forming the umbrella organisation proposed in the A.T. Keay study initiated by the private sector.
Chairman of the Planters Association, Mahendra Amarasuriya said plans were to appoint the new CEO before the end of August.
Industry officials say the coveted title would be an attractive option to many in the industry who fall well within the criterion required for the top job.
However, the selection of an unbiased candidate is expected to be a tough call. Industry analysts feel that most senior level officials are biased towards the sectors they come from.
The defence for the association being unbiased representative body put forward by its promoters is that all major decision by the federation would be by consensus, ensuring all stakeholder a fair decision.
Meanwhile, two of the remaining three taskforces proposed to study and improve key areas will also be initiated this month with the appointment of task leaders.
The first task fore looking into Quality assurance completed its study recently, while the task forces for consolidation of factory operations and overall promotion of Ceylon Tea yet to be appointed.
The A.T. Keay study was a five-month study begun in May 2002 and drew to a close with a five-year plan presented to the stakeholders.
The ADB funded project initiated by the Plantation Restructuring Unit of the Ministry, looked at value addition, brand development and marketing of Ceylon tea.
Representatives of the stakeholders, including those of the Plantation Ministry, Planters Association, Tea Exporters Association, Tea Small Holders Association, Brokers Association and the Tea Factory Owners Association, have launched a steering committee to spearhead the project and catalyse implementation.
The Association quotes activities however are tipped to come at a mammoth cost of approximately US$ 800 000 over a period of three years, Amarasuriya said.
Though sources of funding have not been confirmed, this is expected to come from both the Govement and Aid agencies.
Private sector involvement is to come in the form of a Joint Marketing Company to brand market Ceylon Tea at an approximate cost of US$ 14mn.
Three key players in the industry have reportedly expressed interest in the proposed company.
Says Amarasuriya, ” The company will require an approximate investment of US$ 14 mn over a period of five years to value add 20 to 25 mn kilos of tea.”