Transporters demand reduction in fuel prices, suspension of toll collection
Amid subdued global crude oil prices, transporters' apex body AIMTC on Tuesday demanded reduction in fuel prices, and suspension of toll collection on highways, as truckers are facing acute problems amid the lockdown.
AIMTC said Covid-19 outbreak and the lockdown have hit the transport sector adversely, and exerting acute pressure on the sector.
All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) is the umbrella body of transporters representing about 95 lakh truckers and entities across the country.
There is no respite from the spiralling diesel and petrol prices which is having back-breaking impact on the transport sector as fuel prices are not being reduced and the taxes as well as VAT too are on the higher side, it said.
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With the global crude oil prices on a downward spiral, it is hoped that it will help major consumers such as India manage fiscal pressures coupled with collateral damage done by corona fallout, it added.
"The cost of the Indian basket of crude, which represents the average of Oman, Dubai and Brent crude, was USD 20.56 a barrel on 17 April, 2020. Brent oil prices have collapsed around 60 per cent since the start of the year while the price of diesel has fallen only by 10 per cent. From the beginning of the May 2014, the government did not pass on the benefit of plummeting crude oil prices to the public instead increased profit share of the OMCs by increasing the excise duty.
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"Apart from crude oil rates there are two important factors which determine the fuel cost - VAT and Excise Duty - which has increased significantly in last four years. Irony is - we are paying more taxes than the cost of obtaining fuel. Excise Duty was ₹9.20/litre on Petrol and ₹3.46/litre on diesel on November 1, 2014," said AIMTC President Kultaran Singh Atwal.
Atwal said the present excise duty is ₹22.98 per litre (including road cess) on petrol and ₹18.83 per litre (including road cess) on diesel.
Tax paid for obtaining fuel petrol in Delhi is ₹37.84 per litre, while it is ₹28.01 per litre for diesel, he said.
AIMTC also opposed resumption of toll charges from April 20, saying it has caused undue pressure on the road transport sector, which is crumbling under financial strain.
"These must be suspended for six months and the toll collection tenure may be extended for an equivalent period," it added.
Besides, it demanded protection to the drivers engaged in supply chain in the form of health insurance.
Demanding Covid-19 health insurance for drivers and co-workers, the body said there are quite a few cases where the driver has tested corona positive, including in a recent case in which a truck driver, who travelled from Panipat to Gwalior was found corona positive.
"We have been asking the government for sanitization of vehicles at loading and unloading stations and every 200 km en route along with thermal screening of the drivers, but all fell on deaf ears," it said.