CCC commends US$ 1 billion achievement of tea industry
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) this week applauded the tea industry for reaching over US$1billion in export earnings last year.
It said this achievement should be viewed in the context of the benefits to the country in real terms. Over 95 percent of the resources utilized by the tea industry are indigenous. Consequently, its net foreign exchange earnings are extraordinarily high, with a minimal outflow. Cognizance should also be given to the fact that, until the relatively recent emergence of other major foreign exchange contributors, the industry sustained the economy of this country for many decades, the CCC said.
“This landmark achievement may create a misleading perception in the minds of many that the industry stakeholders are reaping unduly abundant rewards. A little known fact is that a significant element of these earnings are absorbed by plantation labour wages and other facilities provided to this sector, such as housing, health benefits, educational facilities, etc. In the past 12-month period, two wage increases have been awarded to the plantation labour, through the direct intervention of the government. This has resulted in labour expenses amounting to as much as 65 percent of the average Cost of Production.
The CCC said the importance of preserving the purity of the Colombo Tea Auction, which has been nurtured, protected and developed by the combined efforts of the chamber and the Colombo Tea Traders’ Association for over a 100 years, to be acclaimed as a model by the global tea industry, cannot be over-emphasized. The professionalism and efficiency with which the auction has been conducted has ensured maximum transparency and competitiveness.
“If the tea industry continues to operate with the same zeal and dedication as it has done in past years, the future can only be viewed with a sense of realistic optimism,” the chamber added.