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Tea as a subject in Peradeniya University curriculum will help recognize its economic potential

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by Steve A. Morrell

The Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB), in collaboration with the University of Peradeniya, introduced tea and its varied production components into the curriculum of the Agriculture degree of the university.

“Academic interest in the tea industry will exemplify its image as one of the leading international beverages world-wide”, says SLTB Chairman, Jayampathi Molligoda.

The inclusion of tea as a subject in the university curriculum would also further enhance its importance and help recognize its economic potential, he noted.

Addressing participants of the Peradeniya University at the Hantane Tea Museum, Molligoda stressed that the holistic commitment of undergraduates within the discipline of agriculture will auger well for the tea industry and the economy of the country as a whole.

The Chairman further said the vast extents of the tea industry was not only of relevance to agriculture, but what was of overall importance was that the sector was responsible for over one million people directly dependent on the industry.

Tea plantation workers, smallholders, tea factory owners, brokers, shippers, international retailers, brand emergence and literally a wide cross-section of interest sectors were involved in the production and export of tea, he said.

“Tea exports generate US$ 2 billion in revenue to the country annually”, Molligoda added.

The academic involvement of the Peradeniya University in the tea industry would further ensure that production, currently at around 300 million kilos annually, would further increase over the next few years, he said.

Professor Buddhi Marambe, introducing the panel for discussion, said the degree program at the Peradeniya University included the tea industry and inputs from the Tea Research Institute (TRI), which will contribute towards an increase in tea production.

The panel discussion included the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Prof. Gamini Pushpakumara, Tea Commissioner, Jayantha Edirisinghe, Deputy Chairman, Planters’ Association of Ceylon, Senaka Alawathegama and Brian Baptist, a representative of the Brokers’ Association of Ceylon.

A visit to the Tea Museum, with further detailed discussion on all aspects of the tea industry, was facilitated by Assistant Director, SLTB, Dhanushka Karunaratne.



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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