By Hiran H.Senewiratne
Sri Lanka’s leading state owned plantation entity, Janatha Estates Development Board (JEDB), expects a Rs 100 million profit this year. ‘Rs 56 million in profit has been recorded until the end of August, which could be considered a big milestone for the institution, JEDB chairman, Rtd. Wing Commander Buwaneka Abeysuriya said.
‘In 2019 JEDB incurred a loss of Rs 1.2 billion and in the year 2020 we were able to bring down the loss to Rs 300 million and subsequently its losses shot up to Rs 400 million due to a subsequent Rs 250 wage hike. In the year 2022 we could make a Rs 100 million profit, which will enable us to penetrate the Chinese and Eastern European export markets, Abeysuriya told The Island Financial Review.
Abeysuriya added: ‘JEDB has 18 estates, which are all Land Reform Commission lease lands that were badly managed by the previous administration. Therefore, I have visited all the tea and rubber estates and found that replanting has not been done for more than two decades for tea estates and all employees are corrupt from top to bottom, so I had to revive the entire institution from scratch.
‘After pulling out all the JEDB files we found that JEDB had two arms, which were JEDB Plantations and JEDB Property Management. From JEDB Property Management we were able to cover a lot of losses and were able to collect Rs 165 million that were due to come to its accounts.
‘At present, JEDB has achieved a profit of Rs 56 million after paying 4000 employees, their salaries, gratuity, FPF, ETF funds and other benefits. We are planning to penetrate the Chinese and Eastern European countries to earn US dollars for our country.
“Earlier, the government treasury had funded us. Now with the diversification of the business we are no more a burden to the government.
‘Apart from that, the company is diversifying into many areas, such as, developing our colonial bungalows as boutique hotels and eco-tourism spots. A nature park has been developed at Rahathungoda, known as “Rock Wood ”, and a plantation bungalow at Nagasthenna, Nawalapitiya, has been converted into a boutique hotel. Further, a fertilizer manufacturing plant has been set up with the research and development assistance of the Peradeniya University.
‘JEDB, from its property management arm, has leased out several warehouses and buildings, which also add revenue to the entity. Our latest project would be hydro power generation, which could also generate some income for the JEDB.’