KOLKATA/GUWAHATI, Sept 26: The Tea Board India has written to registered auction organisers across the country, producers associations and buyers associations that it has been decided to revert to the old English auction system for which it has issued necessary timelines.
The letter issued on Monday said that it has been decided to introduce the practices of the erstwhile English auction system under the ambit of the Bharat auction model.
Earlier, the Bharat auction system was introduced in North India in April 2023, while the same was already in force in South India earlier.
The letter said that the Tea Board had already held consultations with NSEIT Limited regarding the re-introduction of the features of the English auction system in the newly configured software.
While the Tea Board had earlier suggested dropping of sale numbers 39 and 40 in all the auction centres across India, the statutory body revoked the decision after producers’ bodies said the tea companies would suffer financially if these two sales were dropped.
It said that sale number 41 to be held on October 17, 2023, will be held live under the English auction system.
All the stakeholders in North India had been saying that price discovery under the Bharat auction system was not optimal, unlike the English auction system.
A tea broker said that the Tea Board’s decision to revert to the English is welcome and will benefit all those involved in the trade.
Meanwhile, a report from Guwahati said the decision to ‘bring in practices of the erstwhile English auction model under the ambit of the Bharat model’ was taken following representations and meetings by stakeholders with officials as well as the Union Commerce Minister.
The tea growers, sellers, buyers and other stakeholders had maintained that there were several issues under the Bharat model, including low price realisation, and had urged for returning to the old system.
Tea Association of India (TAI) secretary general PK Bhattacharjee, in a letter on Monday, said that the decision to drop the sales ‘may have adverse consequences on the cash flow of tea companies, especially at a time when all tea garden managements are already facing financial obligations to meet their bonus commitments’.
“The deferment of the sale of catalogued teas could potentially result in a severe cash crunch for all tea companies, making it challenging to fulfil impending financial commitments and possibly creating a law and order situation in the garden,” he said.
The TAI requested for proceeding with the scheduled sales while simultaneous work to revert to the English auction is undertaken in the background.
The Nilgiri Wayanad Tea Association also dashed off a letter to the Tea Board over its ‘abrupt decision…without the concurrence of affected stakeholders’.
“We request you to kindly rescind this decision with immediate effect and call for a proper discussion to decide on a proper and acceptable timeline to bring back the English Auctions,” the association president CM Joseph said.
“In view of the concerns expressed in the representations, Board has considered their requests to allow conducting sale no 39 and 40 across all auction centres of India as per schedule,” the later order issued by the controller of licensing said.
The Bharat system has been better received in South India, but the auctioneers and other stakeholders in Northern India have expressed “dissatisfaction” over the new model and have been pursuing returning to the former English auction system.
A basic difference between the two systems is that in the Bharat Auction model, the bids are entered before the lots offered go live, while in the English system, the bids can be made till a lot is sold. (PTI)