The various tea planter organizations of Assam welcomed the budget 2023-24 tabled by state finance minister Ajanta Neog on the floor of the Assembly on March 16.
Tea Association of India (TAI) secretary Dipanjil Deka welcomed the budget and lauded the extension of the Assam agri income tax exemption and the incentives declared under the Assam Tea Industry Special Incentive Scheme (ATISIS).
“The proposal to hold road shows all over India, to promote Assam tea, as part of the 200 years celebration of Assam tea, would be of immense benefit to the Assam tea industry,” Deka said.
Welcoming the budget, Guwahati Tea Auction Centre Buyers Association (GTABA) secretary Dinesh Bihani said, “The Assam government has emphasised promoting Assam Tea across the country. This will bring more cheer for the consumers to drink good quality Assam Tea.”
“The makers of good quality tea will be recognised by tea lovers for good liquors, aroma and good taste. This will result in good remunerative prices. At present, we are in surplus of tea and due to lower consumption of tea the tea industry is facing a lot of problems. I hope the new initiative by the Assam government will change the scenario of Assam Tea,” he added.
In her budget speech, the finance minister said, “For nearly two centuries, the tea sector has been a backbone of our economy. Needless to add Tea Industry is also extremely important from the employment generation perspective. A substantial part of our populace depends on the tea. Even today, tea constitutes close to 90 per cent of our exports.”
“Our government wishes to celebrate 200 years of Assam tea, which coincides with 2023, grandly. We propose to organize road shows in major cities across the country as well as abroad to promote Assam Tea as a brand and showcase the rich socio-cultural heritage of tea garden communities.
“The potential of tea garden land has been unlocked and shall be used for agriculture and allied activities. Assam Tea Industries Special Incentives Scheme (ATISIS), 2020 will be further strengthened to incentivize the production of orthodox tea and speciality tea in Assam. As promised, an increase in the production subsidy for orthodox and speciality tea from Rs 7 to Rs 10 per kg is already under process.
“However, celebrating the 200 years of Assam Tea, I am pleased to announce that for 2023-24 only, an enhanced production subsidy of Rs 12 per kg will be extended. Rs 100 cr has been earmarked for this scheme.
“Further, I propose the extension of the tax holiday on agricultural income tax for a period of the next three years. The emphasis will be given on the infrastructure development of tea garden labour lines, especially the development of roads.
“This year, as a special relief, all the arrear electricity dues of tea garden worker families living in the lines will be waived off as a one-time measure by the government. I will earmark Rs 150 crore for the same.
“Under the wage Compensation Scheme for Pregnant Women of Tea Garden Areas of Assam, the compensation amount will be enhanced to Rs 15,000 from the existing Rs 12,000. For the construction of 500 Mahaprabhu Jagannath Community Hall-cum-Skill Centres in the prominent localities of tea gardens, our government has already made a provision for Rs 200 crore in this regard.
“Under Mukhya Mantri Awaas Yojana, 10,000 houses will be constructed in Tea Garden labour lines only. Our government will continue supporting Assam Tea Corporation Limited (ATCL) against the payment of outstanding liabilities of interest on the Provident Fund in a phased manner, keeping in mind the greater interest of ATCL workers. I am allocating a sum of Rs 100 crore this year.
“Tea garden and Adivasi community will be recognised as a separate sub-category within OBC. Around 3 per cent reservation into government jobs, within the OBC quota, will be considered for them, subject to fulfilling legal stipulations in this regard,” she added.