Kolkata, March 7 (IANS): The Tea Board of India began a five-day mock testing session on Monday as a prelude to introducing an electronic system across all the auction centres in the country, sources said.
"Our association was informed about the mock testing for introduction of the pan India auction system. The mock testing session has started today (Monday). The decision for pan India e-auction was taken by the Central government and it is being introduced through the Tea Board," Calcutta Tea Traders Association (CTTA) chairman Tapan Roychowdhury told IANS.
In a notice to stakeholders, the Board said, "The mock testing in regard to Pan India Auction System is scheduled to be held from 7th March to 11th March, 2016. The installer for the new module (Pan India module) will be available from the NSE.IT engineers stationed at different auction centres."
There are seven auction centres in India -- Kolkata, Guwahati, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri, Kochi, Coonoor and Coimbatore.
The Board also sought feedback or suggestions from the stakeholders after the completion of mock sessions on a daily basis.
Chowdhury said that "switching to a pan India system is a good intention. Auction was conceptualised with the objective of fair price discovery of tea. Rules were framed for it. All the stakeholders had given their opinions to streamlining the rules so that there would be no problem to run the system. Some of our opinions were incorporated but some were not taken."
According to a Tea Board report, the electronic auction system would increase both participation of buyers and offerings of different varieties of teas in larger volumes.
"Pan India Auction system will enable the buyers registered with a single auction centre to participate in the auction process of other centres as well," it said.
A total of 532.67 million kg of tea was sold through e-auction centres in 2014-15.
Chowdhury said, "Currently e-auction is centre-specific. A buyer who wants to participate in an auction at a centre has to register himself with that particular centre. A registered buyer at the Kolkata auction centre will be allowed to participate at the Siliguri auctions only if he is registered with that centre."
He, however, added, "Pan India auction should coincide with Goods & Service Tax (GST). The idea of pan India auction will be a non-starter unless a uniform tax rate is levied across States."