Agri Business

Tea industry urges FM to digitise wage payments, extend MSME sops

Kolkata | Updated on April 21, 2021

Highlights the need for adequate incentivisation under RODTEP scheme to facilitate exports

A Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA) delegation led by Indian Tea Association (ITA) Chairman Vivek Goenka met the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman here on Tuesday emphasising the need for digitising wage payments of tea garden workers.

The issue of activation of bank accounts of workers and setting up of ATMs and CSPs in tea gardens was listed as a priority item.

“The meeting was assured that all necessary steps would be taken by the Government of India to expedite this process,” said a press statement issued by ITA.

The delegation handed over a representation to the Finance Minister which included several submissions such as exemption to the tea sector from the purview of Section 194N of the Income Tax Act till the time the banking infrastructure in tea garden areas is improved.

The industry also sought for inclusion of the sector under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) and called for coverage of the tea sector under MSME schemes.

To protect the domestic tea industry, the delegation sought for subsisting import duty on tea at 100 per cent and also called for strict enforcement of FSSAI and other food safety regulations on teas imported from Nepal.

To facilitate exports, which suffered a setback in 2020 due to lower production of orthodox and high prices of CTC, the CCPA representation highlighted the need for adequate incentivisation under RODTEP (Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exports Products) scheme for exporters.

The export of Orthodox tea to Iran was also impacted last year due to delayed payments on the back of depleting balance in the rupee-rial trade account. The industry has sought for flexibility in payment mechanism for tea exports to Iran. It has also called for clearance of pending MEIS (Merchandise Exports from India Scheme) claims.

It also called for settlement of pending Tea Board subsidy claims.

The CCPA representation further said that valuation of all in-kind benefits provided by the tea plantation sector should be included in the definition of “wage” under the Code on Wages, 2019. It also said that all welfare provisions should be made available to tea garden workers only through government sponsored schemes.

Published on April 20, 2021

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