Kiriella claims success in  disbursement of subsidies

By Harischandra Gunartatna

The government had already granted Rs. 600 million as tea subsidies to those owning small holdings whereas the previous government had disbursed only Rs. 7.2 million, Plantation Industries Minister Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday.

Tea smallholders accounting for 73% of the country's tea industry were now well looked after and they would produce better quality teas, the Minister said.

Asked what steps the government would take to curb millions of kilos of refuse tea being exported, the minister said the solution was to produce better quality tea and if the tea growers achieved the challenge the subsidy would be increased. "If the tea is of high quality the export of refuse tea will reduce."

Kiriella said that some media institutions had spread false rumours that the government had failed to pay the promised subsidies.

The subsidies were given only to small holdings and others were not entitled to the subsidy, he said.

The government was also granting the plantation workers seven perch blocks each following Cabinet approval and the programme had got underway in Bandarawela recently, Kiriella said.

The Minister charged that the previous government in a bid to woo the farmers had provided them with very low quality fertiliser at Rs. 300 and it had led to a lot of health hazards.

"This government will do away with the previous government's practice of issuing low quality fertiliser," the minister said, adding that the ministry officials had been instructed to carry out a study about the quality of the fertiliser issued to farmers and ensure that it was of good quality.

Kiriella said during the previous government the plantations workers' EPF deductions had not been remitted for 10 years by the Janatha Estate Development Board and the State Plantation Corporation.

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