Notwithstanding the apprehensions of tea industry players about operational matters pertaining to the new pan-India electronic auction system, the central government has decided to enforce the new arrangement from Tuesday.
“There will be no deferment of the pan-India e-auction. We have been consulting them for one-and-a-half years. We have accommodated lot of suggestions, which they have given and have made some changes into the system,” Tea Board of India chairman Santosh Sarangi told IANS.
The new system is expected to enable buyers registered with a single auction centre to participate in the auction process of other centres as well.
Till now, the existing electronic auction process is region- and centre-specific, with restrictive participation of buyers as only those registered at a centre could participate in its auction process.
There are seven auction centres in India – Kolkata, Guwahati, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri, Kochi, Coonoor and Coimbatore. Manual auction of tea in India started in 1861 and the region and centre specific electronic auctions commenced in 2009.
However, Darjeeling tea is coming to the electronic platform for the first time.
According to Tea Board data, about 534 million kg is sold through the e-auction system.
Industry players raised a host of issues concerning the rules of the new auctioning system including the post sales tax and banking settlement, among others. Buyers, sellers and brokers have also sought more settlement banks in the system instead of just one settlement bank – the Bank of India.