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Tea Bill 2022: Draft Tea Bill Seeks To Eliminate Licenses & Remove Outdated Provisions

"The objective of the new bill is to eliminate archaic/redundant provisions that have lost their relevance and make it industry friendly by eliminating licences and serving as a facilitator," an official explained.

Chintu Das
Tea Garden Worker
Tea Garden Worker

According to an official, the draft tea bill aims to eliminate outdated or redundant provisions, eliminate licences, increase ease of doing business, and boost tea exports. The commerce ministry has suggested repealing the Tea Act of 1953, which is 68 years old, and replacing it with the Tea (Promotion and Development) Bill, 2022.

"The objective of the new bill is to eliminate archaic/redundant elements that have lost their relevance and make it industry friendly by eliminating licences and acting as a facilitator," the official explained.

It would also meet the needs of the sector and the present economic situation in the country.

The bill recognises small farmers and places a priority on their training, adoption of new technologies, capacity building, and value addition; it protects the interests of tea garden workers; and it encourages ease of doing business, according to the official.

The tea industry is now governed by four control orders issued by the central government.

"The regulatory system contemplated by those directives has outlived its usefulness," the source said, adding that the proposed bill will help by promoting exports by emphasising on quality and preserving intellectual property rights of Indian-origin tea.

It also discusses decriminalising minor offences and restricting penalties for non-compliance to civil penalties.

Furthermore, the bill establishes the proportionality doctrine, which requires the Tea Board's actions to be consistent with the bill's goals in order to prevent the Board from acting unfairly or unilaterally.

Permission to plant tea, export allocation, export quotas and licences, imposition of a cess on tea produced in India, and removal of planted tea without permission are all archaic aspects of the existing Act.

The central government has the right to manage the pricing and distribution of tea under an existing provision of the Act, including setting the minimum and maximum price.

Currently, the Centre has the authority to choose anybody to take over management control of any garden that has been closed for more than three months without investigation.

"These are reactionary measures that have never worked and have instead functioned as a deterrent to new investment," the official continued.

Export stagnation, a demand-supply mismatch that leads to dropping pricing, diminishing productivity, a lack of value addition, and a lack of product diversity are among the sector's major issues.

Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri teas are produced in India and are among the best in the world.

With a 20% market share, India is the world's second largest tea producer. India produced 1,258 million kgs in 2020, compared to 6,269 million kgs worldwide. India is the world's fourth largest tea exporter, with 210 million kg supplied in 2020. The top three exporters are Kenya, China, and Sri Lanka.

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