The Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) defended delay in a crucial international promotional campaign, insisting current procedures and policies are creating bottlenecks.
While the tea regulator had suggested a number of strategies and measures to uplift the industry in the local and international space, it has not been able to execute the same due to delays caused by the stakeholders involved, implied SLTB Chairperson Janaki Kuruppu in an interview with the Daily FT.
Acknowledging the support extended by the Ministry, Kuruppu said: “The Ministry has been supporting our proposals if it can be done within existing procedures. For years we have been stuck with certain problems and bottle in the system and we have been told to accept that there is no solution. Hence, if we come up with something new, we hit a block.”
Expressing that the SLTB would appreciate the Ministry guiding the institutions on overcoming certain hurdles, she added there are ways to get things done correctly and legally in a fast and efficiently manner within the existing system.
Kuruppu further pointed out those relevant stakeholders not understanding the need to change and the need to hire the right talent to achieve high quality outcomes is a key hurdle she faces as Chief.
“If we go on with the current mindset we have, we will not be able to achieve those great goals. If we didn’t think we could finish the war or double the per capita income, we would not have achieved what we have today. We will even start attempting only if we start thinking that things can change,” she asserted.
Kuruppu called on the private sector to come up with possible solutions. “If the ideas we come up with are not good enough, come up with better ideas and solutions because it is the private sector that benefits a lot from what we do,” she said, while still commending the sector for its contributions.
The tea industry having its own share of problems just as any other industry, Kuruppu narrowed the issues down to quality, productivity and lack of innovation.
However, although the SLTB has been attempting to solve such issues in its capacity as the regulator, the Chief stressed nothing could be done by force and it should be in the interest of the players in the industry to adhere to the rules to ensure quality.
“The industry is private sector-led. When we reject someone’s tea shipment, they want SLTB to be out; when a new factory or new exporter wants to register, they want SLTB in. So most of the complaints you hear from some industry people are very self-motivated,” she said, shedding light on the current competitive status of the industry.
Expressing confidence in the potential Ceylon Tea has to make a name for itself in the international market, she said: “The global tea industry has gone to sleep. Coffee is so alive. No one has done much to promote this beverage; it is such a mundane everyday thing where no one really thinks much about it. Ceylon Tea has the opportunity to take that and revolutionise the tea category and own it.”