Minister stops issue of ‘refuse’ tea permits
Refuse tea permits have been stopped on a directive of Plantation Industries Minister D.M.Jayaratne with the Tea Traders Association based at Gampola and Udunuwara regions being informed of this development, The Kandy Times Business learns.
There are over 30,000 persons involved in this 'refuse tea’ trade and there are nearly one hundred small processing units with modern technology according to traders.
The issue of permits for refuse tea commenced after the amendment to the Tea Act by the late Minister T.B. Illangaratne seeing the plight of the traders. In fact refuse tea was sold without any control but the issue of permits ensured the best out of the worst was taken for consumption.
However former President D.B. Wijetunge did away with the permits and all and sundry got involved in the trade of selling refuse tea. However in the years to follow a number of changes did take place and ultimately a permit system was re-introduced and each permit for an year or a licence was granted to process and deal with refuse tea at a fee of Rs.1000.
Last month when the Tea Commissioner visited Gampola, at a discussion there it was revealed that the name of "refuse tea ' should be done away and tagged "Black Tea" as a product. He said that refuse tea gives a bad taste to the trade. However instead of the name change, the permit system has been suspended – coming as a bolt from the blues for the trade.
Refuse tea dealers and others engaged in this business as asking as to whether there is any politics behind the move or whether the minister is unaware of how many are involved in this refuse tea industry in Gampola and Udunuwara and the large numbers dependent in this sector of the tea trade.
Traders have made represented matters to the Tea Commissioner and the Chairman of the Tea Board on this matter. Tea Assistant Commissioner H.E. Jayaratne said the permit system has been temporarily stopped but declined to give more details.