Assam is the only state where the livelihood of a major population depends upon tea industry and produces 53 % of the country's and 13 % of the world's tea, specifically about ten lakh workers and more than one lakh small tea grower's livelihood is directly dependent upon it. It is a great matter of concern that even after achieving a record export figure of 241 million kgs in 2017, the prices of tea at farm gate level has not increased. There is a mismatch in demand and supply and it's needed to pull all the efforts to increase the demand.
Recently the 15th finance commission visited Tea planters in Assam, where the tea plantation owners requested the commission to provide the fund for the generic promotion of tea. According to Bidyananda Barkakoty, the adviser of North Eastern Tea Association (NETA), India has a huge domestic market for tea but the per capita consumption is very low compared to other nations. There is a fair possibility that the generic promotion of tea in the domestic market will increase the per capita consumption of tea.
He further added "GST implementation has been smooth for tea industry and it really has helped us in case of doing business. The government of Assam levies a Green Leaf Cess of 0.4 paise per kg of green leaf for big plantations under the Assam Taxation on Specified Land Act. According to the latest statistic of Tea Board, small growers produce 40 % of Assam green leaf. In the recent state budget, cess on the green leaf for small growers has been withdrawn. This green leaf cess is only applicable on 60% of the total green leaf produced in the state."
NETA urged, "we hereby appeal that this green leaf cess of 0.4 paise per kg of green leaf is subsumed in the GST."
- Mahendra Kurre