GUWAHATI, March 10 � The tea industry of the State has hailed the State Budget presented by the Chief Minister in the State Assembly today for the 2015-2016 financial year. The proposal to frame a comprehensive tea policy in order to protect quality, safety and productivity of tea in Assam is a laudable step, it said.
Enhancement of the VAT rate on sale of tea through the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) private mode from 1 per cent to 2 per cent and retaining the 0.5 per cent of VAT on the sale of tea through the auction mode of the tea auction centre has been highly appreciated by it. This will help in the sale of more teas through the auction route and also the State Government will get more revenue. The difference in VAT between �private mode� and �auction mode� will become 1.5 per cent which is at present 0.5 per cent. This difference in West Bengal is 4 per cent, said the industry.
It said that the proposal of the Chief Minister, who is also holding the Finance portfolio, to set up small cold storage units in every tea growing district of the State is a welcome move.
The North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) said in a statement here that it welcomes the State Budget overwhelmingly. Small cold storage units are the need of the hour. This will help in maintaining quality of Assam tea and stabilising green leaf price.
Tea cropping in Assam is seasonal in nature; the peak cropping months are July, August, September and October. During these peak cropping months, every year the green leaf price goes down severely because of oversupply and this results in the great suffering of the small tea growers (STGs).
Moreover, the quality of made tea also deteriorates because of excess leaf in the tea factories. During peak harvesting season, STGs can store green leaf in such cold storage units and even the factories can store green leaf in cold storage if they receive excess leaf beyond their factory capacity. The small cold storage concept is working successfully in Tamil Nadu. Green tea leaf can be stored in such storages up to 25 days without any deterioration in quality. The concept is similar to storing of flowers or other floriculture produce, it said.
It also praised the Rs 10 lakh assistance to the Self Help Groups (SHGs) of the STGs for setting up factories, formation of task force to comprehensively address the issues involving the STGs in a time-bound manner as very good steps.
It welcomed the proposal to extend the incentive of Rs 6/- per kg of tea for tea exported through the Inland Container Depot at Amingaon for another three years, that is up to 2018.