Covid-19 lockdown: Truckers call for exemption of State taxes

Truck owners, who have been urging the Centre to exempt them from paying taxes levied at the national level, have also made similar requests with State governments for local taxes, including road and mechanical.

More than 70 per cent of the truckers in the country are single vehicle owners struggling to move vehicles due to the lockdown for the past two months. Vehicles need maintenance to bring them to a running condition, which may cost up to 1 lakh. In this time, paying tax is an additional burden, say truckers.

For instance, States such as Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are collecting mechanical taxes for old vehicles which enter their jurisdiction. Similarly, States also levy road tax, said P Sundarraj, Managing Director of Tiruchirapalli-based Subham Freight Carriers India. Truckers are already paying national Permit fee, fitness certificates fees and insurance, he added.

Bal Malkit Singh of Bal Roadlines, Mumbai, said some of the States levy road tax, goods tax, motor vehicle tax, passenger tax, fitness fees, State permit fees, entry fees by State RTO, State and municipal tolls, and parking fees.

Meanwhile, the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) continues to plead with the Centre to provide relief to lakhs of truckers who are facing hardships due to the lockdown.

About 30 per cent of the vehicles on roads engaged in delivering essential supplies and loaded stock are run majorly by owner-drivers and small operators. These vehicles are going to stop soon, as they will not be able to pay hefty third-party premiums (TPPs), EMIs, statutory fees and penalties. All of these have to be paid upfront without any bearing on whether the vehicle will run, earn or not. The transport operators, big or small, cannot afford these as there are no earnings, said Kultaran Singh Atwal, president, AIMTC.

Small operators

The extension of renewal of motor insurance ended on May 15. Without third-party insurance, vehicles cannot run on road. Its validity extension is not yet done and the members are not able pay up for this, as the average TPP for a single truck comes to about 60,000. Apart from that there are other expenses such as salaries, EMIs, taxes, establishment cost, rentals and maintenance cost that remains to be paid, which seem highly unlikely, he said.

There is extreme financial pressure on small operators who are highly fragmented and unorganised. A large section of the fraternity from across the country cannot cope with the situation any further, as they cannot run their vehicles under acute financial strain. They won’t be able to pay their EMIs on June 1, AIMTC said.

EMIs, State, goods, passenger, motor vehicle taxes must be extended up to at least six months, ideally for this financial year, truckers say.

The road transport fraternity is collapsing and the government’s indifference to its legitimate demands has rippled a strong wave of discontentment and despair across the fraternity pan-India, Atwal said.