mull lease extensions, joint marketing
Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) are seeking to extend their
land leases and are planning to come together in a joint marketing
effort to promote Ceylon tea under a new force to re-invigorate
Sri Lanka- Tea Task Force announced last week that it had encouraged
the RPCs and exporters to jointly promote the Ceylon Tea brand whilst
promoting their own brands. Pooling of resources and benefits from
economies of scale are expected to be more effective in brand marketing.
This venture has the backing of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)
If the RPCs
are able to demonstrate plans with assurances of crop and non-crop
diversification, the government may revise the existing land lease
of 53 years to 99 years. Further steps are being taken to evaluate
many other investment enhancing proposals. Some of these proposals
include plans for granting full mining rights with simpler approval
is also considering giving approvals for duty free importation of
power generation equipment for mini hydro power projects and for
the 'wheeling' or transmission of electricity which RPCs do not
own or directly use to other projects or other companies.
is also said to be included in these plans. Expediting compensation
for land acquired from RPCs, removal of forestry and timber restrictions
and upgrading skills of estate workers, especially the younger generation,
to create more employment options as well as sustaining the existing
workforce, are some of the opportunities the task force has identified
to promote as the well being of the tea sector.
has obtained loans and partial grant funding facilities from the
ADB and the Japanese Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC)
commencing from this year. These loans will be available for the
next six years. These funds amount to a total of US $ 128.4 million
and are allocated to sectors such as tea growing and harvesting.
steps have been taken towards the diversification of RPC's land
so that the tea sector could attract the technology and investment
it so badly needs in order to become a dominant quality supplier
worldwide. Sequentially, to do this there is a crucial need to develop
further the infrastructure with regard to dairy farming, vegetables
and fruit plantation. ADB and JBIC funds will be used to buy land
for this purpose.