Calling for a 36 hour nationwide strike starting from 8 a.m. of October 9, truck owners and operators on Saturday protested against the disruptive policies under Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demanded the inclusion of diesel in the new indirect tax's ambit.
Supplies of commodities including food are likely to be affected due to the proposed token strike.
"The post GST scenario has critically impaired the transport trade. The leadership of All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) and other transport associations have proclaimed the two day token nationwide strike starting from 8 a.m. of October 9 (Monday) to 8 p.m. of October 10. We also support this," Calcutta Goods Transport Association (CGTA) President Prabhat Kumar Mittal told reporters here.
He said there was utter confusion, chaos and disruption due to varied policies under GST that are imposed on the road transport sector.
"The exorbitant increase in the diesel price and daily fluctuations are affecting the road transport sector. The diesel and tolls account for more than 70 per cent of operating cost of the truck, though diesel is out of GST. Diesel must be brought under GST top bring uniformity of diesel pricing across the country," he said.
Transporters also demanded the revision of diesel prices should be done on a quarterly basis.
According to them, confusions arose with the existence of Reverse Charge Mechanism (RCM) and Forward Charge (FCM) in GST system.
"This is a token strike to highlight the legitimate concerns and gravity of the present disruptive conditions. More than 80 lakh trucks are expected to be off the road during the strike," AIMTC Executive President S.K. Mittal told IANS.
Transporters were not able to lift goods from unregistered traders as that would require transporters to pay GST on these traders' behalf under RCM. The GST system also provides another scheme through which transporters can also avail FCM, where they need to pay 12 per cent GST but claim full input credit.
"The contra laws in the present GST regime are leading to coercive registration and unnecessary compliances by truckers and transporters. The government has put options under GST double taxation in the RCM and FCM for 5 per cent and 12 per cent respectively," said Tapan Bhaduri, Organising Secretary of Truck Owners' Association of Bengal.
There should be only one scheme - five per cent in RCM to avoid confusion in trade world, said CGTA Vice President Santosh Saraf.
The sale of used assets also attracts GST which leads to double taxation, Bhaduri said, adding that the proposed E-way bill is not in tune of with the working of the road transport sector.
However, Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators' Associations' Joint Secretary Sajal Ghosh said they would not support the proposed strike and their trucks would ply on roads.
"The two-day token strike was called without our consent. We convened a meeting and decided that our trucks will ply on roads. We have not found much difficulties in GST regime so far," he said.