Kolkata, Dec 6 (PTI) The commerce ministry is deliberating on the role played by Tea Board and is in the process of tweaking it, a senior official has said.

According to government estimates, the cost of administering the subsidies far outweighs the quantum given to the industry.

“The role of Tea Board will change from being a subsidy disbursement body to an entity which would closely work with the industry,” Santosh Sarangi, joint secretary (plantations) with the commerce ministry said.

He said the overall turnover of the tea industry was huge, and therefore, it is not required for the government to dole out subsidies.

“The cost of administering the subsidies through Tea Board outweighs the quantum of subsidy itself,” Sarangi, former deputy chairman of Tea Board, said at the AGM of Indian Tea Association (ITA) here last evening.

Citing the instance of Rubber Board, he said the subsidy amount was Rs 30 crore, while the administrative costs were Rs 100 crore.

Sarangi said that the future orientation of Tea Board would be on quality and sustainability of the produce and the industry.

Talking about the promotion of Indian tea abroad, he said that big players have failed in marketing it overseas.

“There is a need for big players to set up blending and packaging units overseas for which the government will give an assistance,” he said.

Meanwhile, commerce minister Suresh Prabhu in a video message said there was a need to create an export demand and asked the industry to prepare a detailed study.

Exports had been flat at around 230 million kilograms, which should go up to 260 million kilograms, Sarangi said.

The commerce ministry had also sought financial assistance from the finance ministry for the relief of Darjeeling tea industry which was badly affected owing to a prolonged shutdown, he said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.