Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia has said that the Government had no intention to bring down the import duty on tea as of now in order to protect the interests of the domestic industry. Asked if the Government plans to reduce the import duty on tea, which is 100 per cent at present, Mr. Scindia said there were at present no plans to do so. Though he did not mention the level of comfort, Mr. Scindia said that tea production this year was likely to reach the threshold of a billion kg. Speaking at the 19 {+t} {+h} session of Inter-governmental Group on tea here, he stressed on the need to augment domestic production to compete in world trade, where Kenya and Sri Lanka were emerging as big competitors for India. India exported a little over 200 million kg of tea last fiscal, recording 10 per cent growth over the previous year in value terms.

“There are lots of supply-side constraints which we are trying to address through the Special Purpose Tea Fund. We are urging the industry to take up re-plantation so that India could regain its number one position,” Mr. Scindia said.

Budget allocation

He said the government had raised the budget allocation for the tea sector to Rs. 800 crore in the XI Plan from Rs. 350 crore in the X Plan.