13 March, 2018
Small tea growers in Assam will not have to give any cess on green tea leaves from now on as government is taking steps to lift cess on green tea and provide more facilities for tea growers. Many issues came up regarding infrastructure labour lines paver block roads and tea gardens.
Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that in the last two budgets, the rate of particular land cess had been reduced from 25 paisa to 10 paisa per kg green tea leaf in two phases. “Now, we will go a step further and exempt the cess completely on green tea leaves as committed in my previous budget speech to remove the cess over a period of time despite the fiscal impact,”.
He further added that workers suffer from lack of basic infrastructure and amenities, while labour lines in most of our gardens are in a pathetic state. “A strong need has been felt by our government to improve the condition of the labour lines and the government is providing Rs 20 crore to construct paver block roads along the labour lines in all tea gardens,” added he.
Cultivators with an area up to 10.12 hectares are considered small growers who contribute 44 per cent of the state’s total produce per year. The minister said Assam tea is a brand par excellence known across the world and tea garden workers, through their labour, have contributed greatly in making Assam tea a global brand.
Sarma said the government is also taking steps to enrol all active bank accounts of workers under the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, a life insurance coverage plan, and the Pradan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, a government-backed accident insurance scheme that has a maximum sum assured of Rs 2 lakh.
Bidyananda Barkakoty North Eastern Tea Association’s adviser said, “The insurance coverage for tea garden workers is a well-thought scheme.” The organised tea industry, which has to pay more wages to its workers now, has not found mention in the budget.