Agri Business

Budget 2019 has neglected concerns of the plantation industry: UPASI

Our Bureau Kochi | Updated on July 08, 2019 Published on July 08, 2019

The plantation industry felt neglected over the Budget proposals, as there was nothing specific to help the tea, coffee, rubber and spices sectors, which are undergoing severe crisis.

The United Planters Association of South India (UPASI)  wanted the Government to abolition Rule 7B (1) of Income Tax Rules, 1962, to enable the coffee growers to sell coffee directly after curing, helping them move up the value chain. "This would have helped growers getting better share in value realisation and it was in line with the Government’s vision of doubling the farmers income by 2022, if the Rule 7B (1) was abolished," said AE Joseph, President, UPASI.

Other points flagged by UPASI were safeguarding the rubber growers from surge in imports and increasing the allocation of funds to commodity boards.

While the status quo was maintained as far as the natural rubber import duty is concerned, there was no increase in the allocation of funds to the commodity boards, which remains same as announced in the Interim Budget in February 2019.

The Finance Minister also mentioned about the amalgamating various labour legislations into four Labour Codes and coming up with uniform National Minimum Wage.

The expert committee constituted by the Ministry of Labour & Employment to determine the methodology for the fixation of the National Minimum Wage had prescribed a methodology for arriving at the minimum wage consisting of food expenditure, non-food expenditure (essential) and non-food expenditure (others). Some of the non-food expenditure (essential) such as medical, housing, education, fuel and light are provided by the plantation sector free of cost as mandated by the Plantations Labour Act, 1951.

The UPASI hoped that while computing the minimum wage, the expenditure incurred for providing the statutory welfare measures would be taken in to account, otherwise, they believe that it would be a double whammy for the plantation sector. This sector is already reeling under a severe crisis  due to the rise in cost of production because of increased labour costs.

The UPASI requested the Government to factor in the welfare amenities provided by the plantation sector statutorily and free of cost while arriving at the minimum wage. Similarly, TDS at two per cent on cash withdrawal above Rs 1 crore in a year will have liquidity issues in the plantation sector, he said.

Published on July 08, 2019
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