III. MECHANISMS FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS INTO SECTOR POLICIES AND FOR MONITORING 20
C. Resolution of conflicts of interest among relevant ministries and agencies
Since 1993, when the EIA process came into effect, CEA has completed some 100 IEEs and 50 EIAs. However, no experience has been gained as yet with regard to the implementation of EIAs in the tea sector. Nevertheless, experience from the EIA processes in other major development projects indicates that conflicts of interest could arise between ministries and agencies when their own primary functions and objectives, as well as the resources needed to achieve those objectives, are inhibited on environmental grounds.
In the EIA process, there are two levels at which conflicts of interest are coordinated and resolved. First, the scoping process ensures that the views and concerns of all the affected sectors and interest groups are taken into account in the preparation of the terms of reference for conducting EIAs. Second, at the institutional level the Oversight Committee, assisted by the technical subcommittee, makes use of independent specialists and experts to meaningfully assess conflicting areas of interest in order to facilitate balanced decision-making. The third level, particularly in relation to policy issues concerning the environment, development and trade, is the interministerial coordinating committee mechanism of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, as the relevant ministries are represented on those Committees at the highest official level, that is, ministerial Secretaries. Finally, major policy issues related to any conflicts of interests which fail to get resolved at the third level, are taken up with the Cabinet for resolution.
It appears that at the provincial level, the coordination between certain local authorities and the Provincial Committees are constrained because of ideological differences, even though the issues to which they relate are relatively less important. For example, such ideological differences may relate to the issue of EPLs to low-polluting processing activities by the local authorities, under the delegated authority of CEA. In such instances, a Provincial Council could assume a different position on non-technical grounds.