To mark the 200 years of Assam tea industry, state budget 2023-24 has proposed to organize road shows in major cities across the country as well as abroad to promote Assam Tea as a brand and showcase the rich socio-cultural heritage of tea garden communities.
Assam is the largest producer of tea in the country, the budget presented by Assam finance minister, Ajanta Neog on Thursday stated that Assam Tea Industries Special Incentives Scheme (ATISIS), 2020 will be further strengthened to incentivize the production of orthodox tea and specialty tea in Assam. As promised, an increase in the production subsidy for orthodox and speciality tea from Rs 7 to Rs 10 per kg is already under process. However, celebrating the 200 years of Assam Tea, the budget announced that for the current year of 2023-24 only, an enhanced production subsidy of Rs 12 per kg will be extended. Rs 100 crore has been earmarked for this scheme.
The budget has announced extension of tax holiday on Agricultural Income Tax for a period of next three years. The emphasis will be given on the infrastructure development of tea garden labour lines, especially the development of roads. This year, as a special relief, all the arrear electricity dues of tea garden worker families living in the lines will be waived off as a one-time measure by the Government. Around Rs 150 crore for the same.
The budget proposed that under “Wage Compensation Scheme for Pregnant Women of Tea Garden Areas of Assam”, the compensation amount will be enhanced to Rs 15,000 from the existing Rs 12,000. “For construction of 500 Mahaprabhu Jagannath Community Hall cum Skill Centres in the prominent localities of tea gardens, our government has already made a provision for Rs 200 crore in this year's budget. “the finance minister stated.
The budget said nder Mukhya Mantri Awaas Yojana, 10,000 houses will be constructed in Tea Garden labour lines only. She said, “Our Government will continue supporting Assam Tea Corporation Limited (ATCL) against the payment of outstanding liabilities of interest on Provident Fund in a phased manner, keeping in mind greater interest of ATCL workers. I am allocating a sum of Rs 100 crore this year. Tea garden and Adivasi community will be recognised as a separate sub-category within OBC. Around 3% reservation into Government jobs, within the OBC quota, will be considered for them, subject to fulfilling legal stipulations in this regard”.
Tea Association of India (TAI) hailed the Assam budget and lauded the extension of the Assam Agri income tax exemption and the incentives.
Dipanjol Deka, Secretary, TAI Assam Branch stated, “The proposal to hold road shows all over India, to promote Assam tea, as part of the 200 years’ celebration of Assam tea, would be of immense benefit to the Assam tea Industry”.