Finance MInister Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance MInister Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi: Amid a deepening distress in the auto industry, the government on Friday announced several relief measures including deferring one-time registration fee, lifting ban on purchase of petrol/diesel vehicles by its departments and allowing higher depreciation, but it remained non-committal on the demand for a reduction in GST rates. In a bid to help clear rising inventory of BS-IV emission compliant vehicles, it said such vehicles purchased till March 31, 2020 will be allowed to ply till the validity of their registration.

This is because the country is to leapfrog to selling only BS-VI emission compliant vehicles from April 1, 2020. Auto sales in the country have been declining for almost a year now with the passenger vehicles (PVs) segment being the worst hit. Industry estimates suggest that 2 lakh jobs have been cut in the last three months as auto companies and component makers grapple with slow demand. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said representatives from the automotive sector had held meetings - both as an industry and individually.

"BS-IV vehicles was a big issue. There was a confusion because the government wanted to make an announcement to encourage electric vehicles and electric batteries (production)... BS-IV vehicles, which are purchased up to March 2020 will all remain operational for their entire period of registration," she told reporters while announcing measures to boost the sagging economic growth. She added that there was a "lot of heartburn" on registration fee being asked upfront and the government has decided to defer that till June 2020.

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