II. NATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS INTO THE POLICY DECISION PROCESS
B. The evolution and existing structure of institutional arrangements for the tea sector in the various ministries and agencies
15. Adequacy of institutional arrangements in terms of stated objectives
From the viewpoint of environmental issues, institutional arrangements for the tea sector appear to be diverse. That is because when each of the institutions was set up, the primary objective(s) had no direct relevance to environmental issues per se. Nevertheless, the need exists for their diverse functions. Thus it is difficult to perceive of any one institution having the ability to comprehensively address all the environmental issues pertaining to the tea sector without the complementary contributions of the other institutions. For example, the Ministry of Plantation Industries does not have overall authority over the policy covering those environmental issues in the tea sector related to soil erosion, soil degradation and soil conservation, as these subjects generally come within the purview of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.
Concerning the environmental issues in the tea sector which have a bearing on international Conventions t- which Sri Lanka is a signatory, policy decision-making comes within the purview of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, as it is the national focal point for all international Conventions relating to the environment. Similarly, the focus on those environmental issues covering high and mid-grown teas in designated protected areas of the upper Mahaweli region comes within the purview of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development.
Nonetheless, it is not difficult to conclude that the responsibilities of the different institutions overlap, as a consequence of which environmental issues are not dealt with effectively. That is because the diverse issues relating to the tea sector, including environmental issues, are generally channelled through the Ministry of Plantation Industries, which is the line ministry for that sector. In addition, coordination of the different institutions concerned takes place through interministerial coordination committees set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, which has overall authority for policy making on issues concerning the environment. However, the need to establish and strengthen the coordinating mechanisms between the relevant institutions, in order to address environmental issues in a comprehensive manner, cannot be overemphasized.