Tea Board working on shrinking govt support: Bezbaruah

Kolkata:  Tea Board of India was working on a shrinking government support with total allocation being approximately Rs 250 crore, an official said.

"Tea Board is working under the backdrop of shrinking government financial support. The Board also labours under the burden of high administrative costs, with more than Rs 70 crore per year being spent on employees and maintenance of infrastructure, out of a total allocation of approximately Rs 250 crore", non-executive chairman of the board P K Bezbaruah told PTI.

Thus, he suggested, one of the focus area of the Board over the next few years would be to reduce administrative costs by upto Rs 10 crore per annum, while many cost cutting initiatives were already on the anvil.

"In my opinion, the thrust areas of the Board relating to the tea industry should be on exports through incentivization of exportable variants of tea, like orthodox, organic and speciality teas."

The Board should attempt to get the incentive for production of such variants tripled from the present level.

Increase domestic consumption through generic promotion of tea should also be considered as a priority area, Bezbaruah, the second time non-executive chairman, said.

He said that restructuring of primary markets, particularly the public tea auctions to ensure fair price discovery and prevent some sets of stakeholders from gaming the system to their advantage.

"There should also be an effort to ensure transparency of all transactions on both sides, and to eliminate asymmetric information prevailing in todays primary markets", he said.

Bezbaruah said once the primary markets were restructured and strengthened, the Boards ultimate objective would be to ensure that the first sale of all produce that is not exported or sold directly to end consumers, is compulsorily routed through these channels.

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