UPASI seeks higher allocation to plantation sector in Union Budget

The United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI) has urged Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to consider higher allocation for the plantation sector in the Union Budget 2023-24 as enhanced research funding is the need of the hour.

Considerable reduction in the allocation of funds to commodity boards in the previous budgets has affected the plantation sector as the boards are not in a position to implement developmental schemes and to disburse dues to the growers under various schemes. The Tea Board had received a fund of ₹131.92 crore in 2022-23 compared with ₹353.65 crore in the revised estimate of 2021-22.

In its pre-budget memorandum, UPASI said the plantation sector plays a vital role in the economy considering the large workforce it supports, especially women, particularly in the backward regions. Unless there is guaranteed stability in the sector, it will be very difficult to enthuse interest and draw new investments to the sector, Jefry Rebello, UPASI president said.

Export benefits

Export benefits under the RoDTEP scheme for plantation commodities such as tea, coffee, cardamom and pepper should be fixed at least at 5 per cent and for value-added plantation commodities at 7 per cent. The import duty on compound rubber should be increased to 25 per cent from the existing 10 per cent.

It sought the implementaion of the Inter-Ministerial Committee recommendation of sharing social costs between employers (50 per cent) and the Central and State Governments at 40:10 per cent. This recommendation was very constructive and if implemented will go a long way to give relief to the sector, it added.

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The government could extend a helping hand by sharing the social costs of the plantations, similar to the support given to other sectors, it said.

One of the main reasons that the Indian plantation sector is not able to withstand the competition from other producing countries is on account of the high cost of production which is directly linked to the social costs that are not there in any other competing producing countries, Upasi said.

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