Tea firm exec reacts to privatization debate

Tea firm exec reacts to privatization debate

RİZE - Anatolia News Agency
Tea firm exec reacts to privatization debate

An unidentified woman is seen collecting tea leaves in Black Sea province of Rize. Hürriyet photo

The sale of Çaykur, Turkey’s state-run tea company, is not on the agenda despite a recent statement to that effect from the head of the privatization board, according to a top company executive.

Producers should not take such statements into consideration, Çaykur General Manager İdris Sütlüoğlu said in a written statement over the weekend.

Ahmet Aksu, the head of the privatization board, said earlier last week that Turkey’s sole oil and gas pipeline firm Botaş, the country’s postal service, and Tigem, the giant agriculture organization, would be privatized once the necessary conditions have been met.

However, Çaykur received no notification about any such attempt, Sütlüoğlu said. The company has been prepared for privatization together with some other state firms in previous years, but this was due to the status of the company, he said.

“This is why Çaykur is always named among the companies to be privatized. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly clarified the issue, saying he is against the privatization of Çaykur,” Sütlüoğlu said, adding that Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker is also opposed to such an idea.

Çaykur is the country’s largest tea buyer. It bought 653 tons of tea last year, more than half of the country’s total production. The company’s 2011 losses were 74.5 million Turkish Liras, up from nearly 27 million liras a year earlier. It acts as a market regulator as the number of private tea firms grows.