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Plantation sector neglected in Union Budget: Planter's body


Kochi: The plantation industry feels neglected as there was nothing specific in the Union Budget to help the tea, coffee, rubber and spices sectors which are undergoing severe crisis, a planter's body said here Saturday.

President of UPASI, A E Joseph said the main issues highlighted by the association in its wish list submitted to the Centre for consideration in the Budget were abolition of Rule 7B(1) of Income Tax Rules, 1962 to enable coffee growers to sell coffee directly after curing thereby moving up the value chain.

"This would have helped growers getting better share in value realisation and was in line with the government's vision of doubling the farmers income by 2022, if the Rule 7B(1) was abolished," he said in a statement here.

Other points flagged by United Planters Association of South India were safeguarding the rubber growers from surge in imports and increasing the allocation of funds to Commodity Boards.

"Whilestatus quo was maintained as far as the Natural Rubber import duty is concerned, there was no increase in allocation of funds to the Commodity Boards which remains same as announced in the Interim Budget in February 2019," Joseph said.

In the Budget speech, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also mentioned about amalgamation of various labour legislations in to four Labour Codes and coming up with a uniform National Minimum Wage.

The Expert Committee constituted by the Ministry of Labour & Employment to determine the methodology for fixation of National Minimum Wage had prescribed methodology for arriving at National Minimum Wage consisting of food expenditure, non food expenditure (essential) and non food expenditure (others).

Some of the non-food expenditure (essential) such as medical, housing, education, fuel and light are being provided by the Plantation Sector statutorily free of cost as mandated by the Plantations Labour Act, 1951.

"UPASI therefore hope that for the computation of minimum wage, the expenditure incurred for providing statutory welfare measures would be taken in to account, otherwise, this would be double whammy for the Plantation Sector which is already reeling under severe crisis on account of increase in Cost of Production," the statement said.

The association urged the central governement to factor in the welfare amenities provided by the Plantation Sector statutorily and free of cost while arriving at the National Minimum Wage.

Similarly, TDS at 2 per cent on cash withdrawal above Rs 1 crore in a year would have liquidity issues in the plantation sector, it added.

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