Myopic Sirisena dents Sri Lanka’s friendship with Russia – Part I
Posted on February 3rd, 2018

by: A.A.M.NIZAM – MATARA

Bluff Master and myopic Sirisena in another ring of his chain of lies addressing a meeting in Polonnaruwa recently said that President Vladimir Putin of Russia based on the long time relationship with us has promised him to provide anything this country needs and he has just to give a telephone call to him about anything that is required.

Even before elapse of one month from this claim both Reuters News Agency and BBC reported that Russia has placed temporary restrictions on imports of tea and all other agricultural products from Sri Lanka from December 18 after a beetle was found in a tea consignment. The reports said that Russia’s agriculture safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor plans to discuss restricted tea imports with Sri Lanka at the end of December. The watchdog has met a delegation led by Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Russia in Moscow and requested information about steps being taken in Sri Lanka to secure the safety of tea intended for export to Russia. The insect, known as the Khapra beetle, has been discovered in the packaging of a consignment of tea from Sri Lanka, which the government has said it was an isolated case and that it would work with the Russian authorities to resolve the issue. Russia is the second largest buyer of Sri Lanka’s Ceylon tea after Iran with $143 million worth of purchases made last year. According to Rusteacoffee Association Sri Lankan tea accounts for 23 percent of the Russian tea market, with other supplies coming from India, Kenya, China and Vietnam,

A report issued on Tuesday 19th December by Russia’s Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection  Authority Rosselkhoznadzor” demanded that preventive steps should be taken in Sri Lanka to secure the safety of tea intended for export to Russia before further discussion on restricted tea imports from Sri Lanka at the end of December.

When the information reached Colombo, Sirisena who lacks even a basic economic vision, instead of taking a series of corrective actions, has urged Sri Lankan tea cultivators not to panic and reports said that Sirisena tried to play a typical Sri Lankan political gimmick saying that he would send a personal letter to President Putin asking to lift the ban. The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board Dr. Rohan Pethiyagoda, who is a new political appointee and said to be having no clue on tea exports, having worked at an Australian Museum earlier has told local newspapers that the beetle was not found in the tea consignment but, instead within the container outside the tea packages, Accordingly the Tea industry in Sri Lanka has become the unfortunate victim of political corruption, Nepotism and cronyism. Taking the issue as an advantage, it is reported that Ministers Navin Dissanayake and Rishad Bathiudeen and some Ministry officials have planned to visit Russia in the pretext of holding discussions to solve the problem.

The economic analysts have expressed fear that Russian restrictions might have a domino effect across the world with other countries which import Sri Lankan tea following suit by way of a precautionary measures. They say that the claim being made by official quarters that the nasty, elusive beetle entered the tea consignment from a foreign port won’t help reassure the quality conscious international buyers. They have stated that this is a frightening proposition at a time foreign reserves are rapidly dwindling and the country needs a kidney punch to the tea industry, one of the main stays of the economy, like a hole in the head.

Two leading Sri Lankan scientists, in their articles published in the  Island newspaper on 20th December explain why the khapra beetle problem should be taken very seriously and action initiated to control it as a national priority. This particular insect, they point out, is ranked among the 100 most destructive invasive insect species in the world. They inform that the danger of khapra beetle is accompanied by its rapid rate of population increase and high level of quantitative and qualitative loss in the infested stored products. They say that it can survive without food for years, live with low moisture content and undergo adverse environmental conditions in diapauses and are resistant to many insecticides. This shows the magnitude of the problem we are faced with and why Russia is so concerned. The two scientists have suggested remedial measures, which the government should seriously consider adopting urgently.

Adult Khapra Beetl

Khapra beetle
larva infestation

In the meantime two valuable and investigative articles by Sirisena’s bête noire website LankaENews (LEN) and the Sinhala medium website Lanka CNews website based on information provided by Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador \to Russia has turned the attention to the real issue relating to the Russian ban.

 

LEN under the title Maithri -Maharaja mahajara (filth) deal and decision wreak havoc ! Factual story behind Russia’s ban on SL Tea” dated 18th December, 2017  said that the decision taken by Sirisena and Kili Maharaja alias mahajara (filth ) wheeler dealer group who have no  knowledge of  State diplomacy,  and because their gaze are  solely and wholly fixed on rackets and commissios, has  plunged the entire country into doom and gloom on an unprecedented scale . It said that the saddest part is, It is the helpless and hapless  people who have to bear the brunt of all the problems generated  by their illicit deals. The website said that even before the saliva that oozed out of the mouth of Sirisena could dry saying the Russian President Putin is his bosom pal that it is the same so called bosom pal Putin who has decided that the import of Tea from Sri Lanka should be halted with immediate effect despite the fact that Sri Lanka has been exporting tea to Russia for decades.  The reason cited officially by Russia for this action is that the Tea in the container imported from Sri Lanka contained the insect ‘trogoderma  granarium’ alias ‘Kapra’

It said that the action taken by Russia has metaphorically speaking , given  a slap in the face of Sri Lanka, and because of the publicity given to this incident through the European media, Sri Lanka  tea market has been most adversely affected in the long run.

The LEN asserted that all these are the evil fallout of the decision taken unilaterally by the Maithri- Maharaja group to ban Asbestos ceiling sheets within Sri Lanka on the grounds that those cause lung cancer , without any medical data or technological report to substantiate that claim. It said that the notorious Maharaja  the mahajara wheeler dealer orchestrated this camouflage ban because he had plans to manufacture S- Lon variety asbestos ceiling sheets when asbestos sheets are unavailable maharaja the mahajara would have no competitor. The Website said that when Sirisena took this unilateral decision the main constituent party of the government UNP was not even consulted.

It is significant to note asbestos sheets are mainly imported to Sri Lanka from Russia. The ex Russian ambassador to Sri Lank, Alexander Kerchavo expressed his bitter resentment in Colombo to the Sri Lanka government against this decision taken without any research report.

(To be continued)

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