Thursday, 28 May 2020 18:29

Government renews ex regime’s tainted dairy cow deal

One month after the suspension of controversial dairy cow imports from Australia over corruption and mal practice allegation in April last year, the present administration has given green light to resume the deal.

Cabinet of Minister has given approval today to import another 2,500 Dairy Cows from Australia despite irregularities in the previous deal of importing milch cows from Australia.

In 2014, a Cabinet memorandum had proposed the importation of 20,000 cows in stages for private farmers to improve the dairy industry, under an agreement between the Sri Lankan and Australian governments.

But with the change of government in 2015, the project had been temporarily suspended. However, in July 2015, it had been resurrected and approved by the new government.
Sri Lanka in an effort to boost local milk production has imported 3,000 high yielding milch cows from Australia in 2017.

The milch cows imported by the Ministry of Rural Economy were distributed among fifty middle-scale entrepreneurs in Nuwara Eliya, Matale, Kandy, Kurunegala and Badulla districts.

Wellard Rural Exports Pty Ltd was the agent and transporter of the milch cows based in Australia.

In December 2016, fresh loan agreements amounting to US$ 73.95 million had been signed with Export Finance Insurance Corporation of Australia and Cooperative RaboBank of the Netherlands.

In April 2019 this program has been suspended again following allegation of corruption and mal practices in the deal.

At the time, dairy farmers accused the importers of cheating them into purchasing the cows as they fell short of the promised milk production capacity and were falling gravely ill and dying.

The issue was heavily criticized in local and international media and a subsequent report into the ‘deal’ by the Sri Lankan Attorney-General was nothing short of damning.

How ever the present administration has now renewed the same programme and it comes a year after a massive controversy erupted both in Sri Lanka and Australia on the mass deaths of the imported Heifers, ill-suited to Sri Lanka’s climate, according to experts.

(LIN)

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