E-auction of tea in six centres from Diwali

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Kolkata, Mar 20 (UNI) Tea Board, the apex regulatory body of India's tea industry, today singed an agreement with NSEiT (national stock exchange) to provide technical knowhow for starting e-auction in all six major tea selling centres from this Diwali, Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said here today.

''e-auction was necessary to bring transparency in tea trading, enhancement of business, and quicker payment to the growers,'' Mr Ramesh, who supervised the signing ceremony between Board's deputy chairman Roshmi Sen and NSEiT executive vice president C Kajwadkar here, said.

India produces some 947 million kgs of made tea every year, but only 45 per cent are sold through manual auction centres of Kolkata, Siliguri, Guwahati, Connoor, Coimbatore and Kochi.

But in Sri Lanka and Kenya, India's two formidable competitors, it was 95 per cent each, Mr Ramesh said.

He said Kenya and Sri Lanka also sought India's help to go for e-auction in tea business.

Mr Ramesh said the Government would spend Rs 9.5 crore for buying 600 computers and despatching them to six auction centres in the country.

The present e-auction exercise was the second attempt after first software tea auction intiatives launched in 2004 failed following apprehension among the business people and "faulty" softwares designed by IBM/Accenture.

"Our 2004 e-aution in the tea centres was failure following faulty software provided by IBM/Accenture and the system and design was faulty," Mr Ramesh clarified saying hundreds of computers were now lying in store rooms in different centres.

"We are not going to pass any law nor bringing a regulation to have e-auction mandatory but want that every centre must adopt e-auction so that business is expanded, transparency is maintained, payment is made early and pricing of tea is standarised," Mr Ramesh said.

The minister hoped that the e-auction would bring good for tea industry in coming years.

From August to September the e-auction would go on trial basis in all major six centres and, specifically, on this Diwali the software tea action would start, NSEiT official said.

Tea Board chairman Basudeb Banerjee said the government would bear the expenditures for e-auction in first three years and by then the Baord and NSEiT would come out with a mechanism to carry on e-auction business in all major centres of the country.

UNI PC PP RD 1540

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