Can tea without milk and sugar, sugared tea without milk and the milky tea without sugar be charged the same price as tea brewed with all these? No, says Kerala government emphatically in a Government Order (GO) this week. If milk and sugar are the standard inputs of the common man’s standard cuppa, what would be the rationale in demanding the same price as the standard tea for tea without sugar or milk, asks the state food ministry in the GO ‘214/2018 Food & Civil Supplies/ Kerala Government’.
“Earlier, in 2010, the consumer affairs department of Kerala government had come out with a similar GO, asking to lower the price of tea without sugar. However, this was not effectively implemented,” says Jose Sebastian, who heads the Institute for Enterprise, Culture and Entrepreneurship Development. “It would have been more pragmatic to discuss this with the organisations of tea-shop owners, before coming out with an order,” he said.
The latest GO warrants that it will be the onus of the district collectors and civil supplies authorities to monitor the rationalised price differential on the common man’s beverage. The GO categorically says that if tea stalls, restaurants and hotels do not exhibit boards of prices for black tea, tea without sugar and standard tea separately, they are liable to be slapped penalty.
“It would trim my family budget a good deal if the law works to make distinctions in different tea prices, since I am a chronic diabetic patient,” says a vegetable vendor, Girija Krishnan.
Although a state of plantations, a cup of tea is relatively expensive proposition in Kerala tea shops. Depending on the urban-rural differences, it could cost anywhere between Rs 8 and Rs 20 per cup.