JEDB turns to profitable path | Daily News

JEDB turns to profitable path

Rtd. Wg. Cmdr. Buwaneka  D. Abeysuriya
Rtd. Wg. Cmdr. Buwaneka D. Abeysuriya

Government-owned Janatha Estates Development Board” (JEDB) which was making huge losses and depended on government Treasury handouts for many years has made a dramatic U-turn and is on its way to break even and make profits from this year.

JEDB which was set up in 1976 after the Land Reform act to manage lands taken over by the government posted a net loss of Rs. 757 million and also received a hand out of Rs. 450 million from the Treasury to shoulder the burden for paying salaries in 2019.

However, with prudent economic management systems and initiating several other initiatives JEDB was successful in moving out of taking the ‘Treasury dole’ of Rs. 450 million for staff from the in 2020.

“In addition, we have reduced our expenses by more than half and losses were narrowed to Rs. 357 million,” said Chairman, JEDB, Rtd. Wg. Cmdr. Buwaneka D. Abeysuriya was appointed in January 2020.

Successive managements of the JEDB had defaulted on EPF/ETF payments and there was a huge Rs. 1.8 billion payments due and there also were shocking 1,700 plus cases against JEDB Chairman from former employees. In addition, JEDB also was in debt for nearly Rs. 700 million for state banks, Tea Board, Mineral Sands, Fertilizer Corporation and several other institutions. This also includes Rs. 80 million in arrears to the Ceylon Municipal Council.” “Some of these were settled while we have started paying EPF/ETF for others.

One of the other biggest challenges was the non-finalizing of annual accounts for eight years which was also finally corrected last year.

“We currently have around 20,000 hectares of land, tea factories, small power plants, in different parts of Sri Lanka and have 18 estates of tea and rubber which we manage. (16 tea estates and 02 rubber Estates).

He identified one of the biggest revenue losses were due to non-performing estates/factories and we have reinvested to provide them fertilizer, replanting material and other needed infrastructure to correct these on requests made by Estate heads whose mindsets have now changed from ‘lethargic’ to ‘positive thinking’.

Cost of production was another major issue and here again, we have intervened and brought it down from Rs. 550 to 470. He said that with the subject Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamae and a well-educated and quailed Board comprising Professionals, they looked at the JEDB with a new professional mindset and originated several changes and reduced expenses as well as corruption. “We now see a steady increase of revenue and despite the impact of COVID-19 pandemic we look to break even and earn profits this year,” he said.

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JEDB to set up a Property Management Arm

The previously heavily politicized JEDB has leased out several of its prime estates, factories and locations to the private sector and plans are now underway to set up a new Property Management arm to review and manage them.

“We have observed that there were 158 lease agreements executed under very unprofessional terms and some of these have already expired and released again with better conditions after following proper tender procedures. The proposed Property Management arm will renegotiate the other agreements and bring them in line with current ‘lease rates’.”

He said that some of their lands in Mattakkuliya used as warehouses have been sold/leased to Urban Development Authority and Ministry of Education and dues for these amounting to over Rs. 100 million were not collated. “However we have now been able to collect most of them and remaining the balance too would be taken soon.”

Our Head office is located on five acres of land at Vauxhall Street we also have three acres of land on Darley Road, Colombo given out on lease. “We plan to lease out several other properties after finalizing tenders under government tender procedure soon.”