The commerce ministry is in the process of modifying Tea Board, said a senior official. Instead of merely giving subsidy, the Tea Board of India should look at the general promotion of the industry. The cost of administering the subsidies (through Tea Board) outweighs the quantum of subsidy given to the industry, said Santosh Sarangi, Joint Secretary (plantations), Commerce Ministry.
"The role of Tea Board will change from being a subsidy disbursement body to an entity which would closely work with the industry, he said.
He said the overall turnover of the tea industry was huge, and therefore, it is not required for the government to dole out subsidies.
"The cost of administering the subsidies through Tea Board outweighs the quantum of subsidy itself," Sarangi, former deputy chairman of Tea Board, said at the AGM of Indian Tea Association (ITA) here last evening. According to Sarangi, future orientation of Tea Board should be on quality and sustainability of the produce and the industry.
Citing the instance of Rubber Board, he said the subsidy amount was Rs 30 crore, while the administrative costs were Rs 100 crore. He said that big players have failed in marketing it overseas. "There is a need for big players to set up blending and packaging units overseas for which the government will give assistance," he said.
Apart from working on generic promotion of tea industry, Tea Board should also help setting up packaging and blending units overseas to promote exports, said PK Bezboruah, Chairman, Tea Board. Exports had been flat at around 230 million kilograms, which should go up to 260 million kilograms, Sarangi said.
The commerce ministry had also sought financial assistance from the finance ministry for the relief of Darjeeling tea industry which was badly affected owing to a prolonged shutdown.