ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 40
Financial Times  

Mismanaging the rubber cess funds

The Colombo Rubber Traders’ Association (CRTA) complained about a recent decision by Parliament to consolidate the cess funds at the Treasury.

This could mean that the industry may not necessarily be the beneficiary, in any form, of funds speciously extracted from its stakeholders, a concerned CRTA said.

Recently the Colombo Tea Traders’ Association complained that the industry was not benefiting from tea cess which was mostly used by government in vote-catching gimmicks like employment-generation projects.

The CRTA said the Rubber Cess Committee of the Ministry of Plantation Industries, which included senior representatives of the Industry, to guide on the judicious allocation of the funds, will now become defunct and the Rubber Cess Act become a dead letter. “The objective of the Cess Scheme is the exclusive utilisation of funds collected, through a levy on rubber exports and imported rubber products, for the benefit of the industry. However, it was found to be a convenient resource, readily and consistently available, to be drawn upon to finance the reckless spending agenda of the state authorities.

Originally earmarked for upgrading the industry, through productivity and quality orientated initiatives, such as replanting, expansion of new growing areas, factory development, rain-guarding and nursery work, the industry was shocked by the news, officially intimated, that work already undertaken by producers, on the pledge that expenses incurred would be subsidized by cess funds, will now not receive any financial reimbursement. This is tantamount to a breach of trust, which will seriously damage the credibility of state agencies in the perception of the industry,” the CRTA statement said.

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