The Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) was inaugurated, on 17 February 1854 by the private planters of the day – “…to have some organization that would be able to speak authoritatively on their behalf and to deal with those responsible for the administration of the island.” Since then, the PA, which was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1916, flourished.
Throughout the colonial period and even after independence, right up to the nationalisation of estates in 1975, it certainly lived up to the expectations of its founders and spoke with authority to the administrators and law makers of the island.
The PA was an organization to reckon with and its authority and influence in the seats of power, during that period, were well known and undisputed.
The Headquarters of the PA were moved from Kandy to Colombo in 1947, so as to be nearer those seats of power and for greater efficiency in the numerous and wide ranging activities in which the PA was actively involved. Public companies (sterling and rupee) became the major factor in the membership of the PA.
With the nationalisation of estates, in 1972, under the Land Reform Law, management of estates was taken over by the state and the functions of the PA were severely curtailed.
However, the PA continued with its restricted activity from 1975 servicing a few proprietary estates until the wheel turned full circle, when in 1992 the government decided to hand back the estates to the private sector, initially on a management contract.
In 1992 the management of State owned plantations were handed over to Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) while the government retained 100% ownership.
In 1995 the Government divested the shares of the Regional Plantation Companies to private sector management companies, while 19% of the shares were retained by the general public and estate employees. The RPCs were given lease agreements for 53 years for estates under their management.
Today the PA’s main function continues to be that of protecting / promoting the interests of its members. As part of its policy, the PA’s actions and representations are directed at enhancing the industry’s credibility and image in the eyes of the government and the public.