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Relief potion for tea firms

Calcutta, March 21: The tea industry has welcomed the state budget proposal to exempt it from education and rural employment cess for three years.

Along with the Union budget proposal to abolish special excise duty, the net impact will be savings of Rs 1.50 per kg for the tea industry in Bengal.

Indian Tea Association chairman C. K. Dhanuka said the industry would benefit from the state budget proposal. 'The state government has understood the problem of the industry, which is going through a difficult phase. We really appreciate the positive attitude shown by the government,' Dhanuka said.

In his budget proposal, Bengal finance minister Asim Dasgupta said tea estates will be exempted from paying education cess and rural employment cess for three years with effect from April 1, 2004.

But this would be contingent upon their paying the arrears of cess accruing up to March 31, 2004 along with interest. However, to avoid hardship in paying arrears of cess and interest, provision is being made for 24 equal monthly instalments, commencing from April 2005 and payment of only 25 per cent of the interest by June 30, 2005. The balance would be remitted. No interest will be charged separately for payment of the arrears in instalments.

The minister said he also proposed to reduce the rate of interest on delayed payment of cess on tea from 2 per cent to 1 per cent per month with effect from April 1, 2005.

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