The Sunday Leader

Can Past Glories Of Tea Industry Be Recreated?

With the dawned of the New Year, it’s good to take stock of how the tea industry has fared. We have a golden opportunity to take stock of our achievements and failures during the year and get ready to face the challenges of the year 2014.

A few decades ago, tea enjoyed the premier position of earning the most foreign exchange for the country. However garments and remittances from expatriate workers have now taken pride of place. Tea is finally breaking out of previous bad record and the year 2013 had an extra ordinary year with prices for Sri Lanka tea to achieve the export target of US $ 1.5 billion, may be due to the price in the world market reaching the highest in the past four decades.

The tea small holder sector is contributing over 70 present of the National production and their Net Sale Average is well over Rs 500 /= per kilo at the moment and the tea small holder is getting well above Rs70 /= to 75/= per kilo of green leaf.

The RPCS Net Sale Average is over Rs 400/= but unlike the Tea small holders’, their labour wages amount to 67 percent to 70 percent of the total cost of production excluding other costs such as medical, welfare and miscellaneous.

One of the allegations made against some of the corporate Sector (RPCS) is that there is a tendency to take a large portion of income as Management Fees and thereby leaving very little or nothing for the development of the estates and the factories. It is also alleged that RPCs are reluctant to invest due to the fact that land is on lease and are unsure as to what will happen after the leases expire.

On the other hand some of the companies are inherently exposed to a multitude of risks due to the very nature of the industry.
We will come to know whether it is true once the budget proposals are implemented to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the under performing plantation company list comes out only.

Despite all these, we all know that there is a marked improvement in most of the company estate sector living conditions such as housing, health and sanitation, income levels etc…..and all these facilities are free of charge.

The potential for the industry locally and internationally is very encouraging. The Government is also looking at every possible aspect of ensuring the long term sustainability of the industry.

I therefore appeal to the responsible authorities to come out with some sort of an acceptable solution to the problems that the industry is facing since the beginning of the New Year.

I do not wish to elaborate on all the unresolved key issues the industry is facing but the rising cost of production, declining tea yields, slow progress in replanting and infilling along with acute shortage of labour are only a few to be mentioned.
The planting community should be grateful to the President and the Minister of Plantation Industry for the timely and progressive proposals made in the recent budget.

The government, the research institutions, the regional plantation companies, trade unions, politicians and workers have to play a key role towards contributing to the overall development and the economic well-being of the country.
It is time that all of us who are interested in the progress of our country assists to sustain the tea industry in a much more responsible manner to recreate the past glories of the industry rather than thinking none of these expectations will not met or these are perceived as wishful thinking.

It is our greatest wish for the year 2014 that these aspirations be realised soon.

Lalin I. De Silva


Bloopers And Blunders

I wish to share with readers of this newspaper a segment of howlers in the Media, especially the Lankan variety and some real stunners from a collection of those from India, Japan, Thailand and few Asian countries.
The abject and ridiculous use of English in not translating but transliterating it in total shows us the mediocrity and illiteracy of those involved in the business.
After a few holiday travels, both local and overseas, I have made a gem of a collection which I need to share with readers – it may make you break up in laughter but still the disgraceful use of the language is a matter for concern. Here is a just a few of them:

Sign on an outstation bus: Ride with us, die with us
On the side of a tri-shaw: Better to you to not to come my way (means – do not cross my path)
Many beauticians state on boards: Floral and bridle dressing (so you bring in the horses)
A popular English tuition master’s board reads : Spoken English and General English (and the sign still in use for the past 6 months
A hardware dealer states: We are suppliers of all hardwires
A studio: Colour weddings
Outside a Hong Kong dress shop: Ladies have fits upstairs
A Bangkok dry-cleaner: Drop your trousers here for best results!
Sign in a doctor’s office in Japan: Specialist in women and other diseases
Clothing store: Bargains for men with 16 and 17 necks
Sign in the washroom of African airport: To stop the drip, turn cock to the right
Airport lounge bar in African airport: Free drinks for ladies with nuts!
Juice Bar in Japan: Orange juice – it gets your pecker up
In an African Zoo: See elephants, lions and cheaters
In a zoo: Would you like to ride on your own ar* *?
Street dentist in India: Teeth extracted by the latest Methodist
Buddhist temple in Bangkok: It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man
Sign in a zoo in Thailand: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food give it to the guards on duty
Sign in a cocktail bar in Bangkok: Ladies are suggested not to have chidden in the bar
A phone booth in Italy: To call a broad first dial 00
Sign in a safari hotel in Africa: Early to bed and up with the cock!
Sign in a Swiss hotel: The manager has personally passed all the water served here
Sign on a tourist bus window: Don’t lean on the widow
Tourist hotel in Switzerland: We are not responsive to your valuable losses unless they are in our safe
Japanese restaurant: Eat in or take off
African airport: Water fountain for humans only
Paris gift shop: Our police – no return, no exchange

From a book titled Guide of Colombo: Basal Street (Castle), Read Avenue (Reid), Joshep Presser Memorial Hospital, Nine Wallse Maternity, Macarthi Hospital, Australian Embassy, Came Bridge Place, Cro-asiya, Quba, Sypras, Braseel, Finland, Hangaria, Ayarland, Esrayel, Koria, Palestine, Pilipin, Norvigia, Saudi Arabic.

I hope everyone enjoys these publicity jokers, have a happy time and laff the hole day.

Brian Jansz


Rat Race Remains The Same

Christmas has come and gone. The ones who had the means did celebrate and had angel choirs singing and playing harps for them. The ones with little jingles squeezed coins and managed a poor imitation of Christmas. And the ones with empty pockets suffered as usual.

Many a little kid in rags would have wondered why Santa never came to his or her home. “Yes ‘he is writing a list and checking it twice” but not to know who is naughty or nice. That is just the song. Santa Claus sure has a list, and is checking too, ensuring that the little children who write the notes are from families that can afford him.

That unfortunately is a sad side of Christmas we at most times tend to forget.

Now the New Year has dawned. Resolutions of changing ‘this’ and doing ‘that’ blow in like monsoon winds and blow out faster than they came. But life goes on. One thing is certain; nothing will change unless we change.

The rat race remains the same and maybe more new rodents join in to participate. And we run like the three blind mice “see how they run, see how they run” and we end-up getting our tails cut.

This is January and the year is ahead and it is time to look at our own road map and see what can be changed and what should be changed in our lives.

Not to dream in technicolour to move mountains, but doing something meaningful to make a little difference in our lives and maybe in the life of someone in need.

Oh no! I am not preaching, just making a point of how easy it is to feel nice by counting blessings and extending a hand.
And that is not political, not demarcated by religion and not labalised by race.

Capt Elmo Jayawardena


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