Monday, February 15, 2010


Feb 15, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka intends to cut automated tea export document processing charges, reducing costs for shippers of the island’s main export commodity and making them more competitive, officials said.
Vinesh Athukorala, chief executive, eServices Lanka, the firm in charge of the online documentation project, said the electronic data interchange charge will be reduced by 50 rupees from March 1.

Tea exporters now have to pay a fee of 250 rupees per transaction.

Exporters make a saving of an estimated 2.50 dollars per shipment and will also be assured of information security by submitting the tea ‘blend sheet’ online rather than manually, he said.

Lalith Hettiarachchi, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, said the ability to submit online customs declarations has been a boon to exporters in the tea trade which earns about 1.2 billion dollars in revenue each year.

“The form-filling has been reduced to a minimum now,” he told a news conference. “There’s no longer a need to physically come to the Tea Board to lodge a customs declaration, which takes time.”

Jayanath Perera, a tea exporter, said the automation of tea export documentation has made exporters more competitive in international markets.

“Time is money. Any reduction in time spent for export processing would be most welcome.”

Sri Lanka’s electronic export documentation project is, however, years behind schedule and exporters say the island is far behind other trading nations like Singapore in electronic commerce.

The system, designed and implemented by eServices Lanka, in which the government has a stake, allows tea exporters to submit export documents for approval electronically without having to visit the Tea Board.

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