GUWAHATI: The Tea Association of India welcomed the withdrawal of Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) payable by companies, but said the energy security scheme for farmers, known by the acronym PM KUSUM, ought to have been extended to the tea industry.
The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan funds farmers to set up standalone grid-connected solar pumps. The budget for 2020-21, unveiled in the Lok Sabha by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday, pledged to extend the scheme to 15 lakh farmers.
The scheme was launched in February last year had with an outlay of Rs 34,422 crore.
Secretary general P K Bhattacharjee of the Tea Association of India said the tea industry is a predominantly agricultural activity, so was deservant of PM KUSUM.
Tea is the predominant agricultural activity in four or five districts of West Bengal and nearly a dozen in Assam. So extension of PM KUSUM to the tea industry would lead to a spurt in economic activity there.
The North Eastern Tea Association too pitched for PM KUSUM funds for the tea industry. Its adviser Bidyananda Barkakoty said it would promote energy security within the industry, and also enable tea growers to sell surplus energy and earn revenue.
The industry noted that no relief was provided in the budget by way of scrapping the 2 per cent TDS on withdrawal of cash of more than Rs. 1 crore, a glitch the tea Industry wants removed.
In his reaction to the budget, Bhattacharjee said the tea industry should benefit from the proposed rebate on digital refund of duties paid on fuel and electricity which at present is not refundable under GST.
However, the lobby welcomed the easing of the DDT burden on tea companies. “The increased emphasis on flagship schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna (PMSSY) can benefit the tea industry along with schemes that lay more emphasis on child welfare and climate change,” he said.
The budget’s emphasis on horticulture ties in nicely with the Agricultural Business Policy 2019 announced recently by the West Bengal government, which would render benefits to the tea sector too, he said. However, the change in incentive schemes for chemical fertilizers, as proposed in Budget 2020-2021, may adversely impact the tea industry....