Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday presented the Union Budget for 2023-24 (Apr-Mar) in the Lok Sabha. Team FPJ spoke to industry experts from various fields. To gauge the reaction in the transport sector, we spoke with All India Motor Transport Congress' Bal Malkit Singh. Here's what he had to say.
No tangible respite has accrued to the road transport sector of India in Budget 23, despite the sector being a key link of the supply chain and one of the highest taxpayer and employment generators.
Burdened with acute taxation, unbridled corruption and extortion from this sector by various agencies, there is a lack of consideration towards its critical issues. In spite of reductions in crude oil prices, there is no reduction in the retail prices of diesel and petrol to bring respite to the common man and the road transport sector. There is also no mention of bringing petrol and diesel under the GST ambit.
Other reasonable and practical demands like removal of restrictions and anti-dumping duty on the import of tyres, lowering GST and duties on spare parts, AdBlue, lubricants and BS VI vehicles, along with incentivisation of the scrapping policy have not been considered by the finance minister. Scrapping policy imposed upon the transport sector too is not going down well with the fraternity. It is unilateral and coercive, and is only to help the automotive sector and OEMs. The final policy document has not been shared with stakeholders or the affected parties.
As a result, lakhs of small operators across the country will lose their livelihoods and employment. What has the government done to ensure the sustenance of lakhs of poor truckers who will get displaced by this unilateral policy? The road transport sector is already trampled under spiralling inflation, high taxation and rising operating costs, and as such, transport operations are getting unviable. There has been no sensitivity to the woes of the road transport sector, which is the most important link in the supply chain.
The callous approach of the government towards the 20-crore-strong road transport fraternity has created strong resentment across the country, as the budget failed to live up to their expectations. We strongly protest against the non-consideration of the demands of the road transport sector and will take a call in this regard during our governing council meeting which will be held shortly.
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