All India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA) is an apex body of Goods Transport Companies, covering 65% of the organized road transportation of the country. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to the cause of transport fraternity in India and it plays a key role in representing India’s, Transport Industry before the Government of India and State Governments.
AITWA has been writing letters to Government on various issues of Transport Industry mainly on issues of un-practicable E-Way bill under GST and unviable pricing policy of Diesel. AITWA President and other office bearers have also been meeting Govt officials regularly to explain their problems; however no resolution or respite have ever been provided. Ministers are not available for any direct interaction.
To address the issue of existence of the transporters, and to get the attention of Government Of India, AITWA has joined the Bharat Bandh of one day on February 26, 2021 called by Confederation Of All India Trade Associations (CAIT). All state level transport associations have confirmed their support to AITWA in this one day Non-Operation of transports in protest against Eway Bill and Diesel issues. Other National Associations are considering their support on these subjects.
The nature of the movement is to reject booking and movement of all E-Way Bill oriented goods for one day. All transport companies will be asked to park their vehicles between 10 AM to 6 PM as a symbolic protest. All transport godowns will display the protest banners. All customers will be approached by transport companies not to book or load any goods on February 26, 2021.
GST & Eway Bill
Goods And Service Tax or GST was introduced with great promises about simplicity of operation and business. GST brought along the E-Way Bill. GST has a robust system in which a seller and a buyer make a deal of selling their goods at a certain rate of a certain quantity and fix up the responsibility of payment of GST between them; the deal is posted on Government portal called GSTN. The role of transporter is mere movement of the goods from the consignor to consignee. A transporter is not the part of any tax payment.
However the Government decided to include a transporter in the Business deal as a concerned party. For this purpose, the Government introduced a special type of registration for the transporters who are otherwise exempted from registration; and that was called Enrollment as a transporter.
The Government then decided to bind the time taken for the transportation by the transporter from booking station to delivery station. An arbitrary time frame of 100 kms per day was fixed by the Government. No discussion was done with the transport industry while fixing this limit. As the expected performance was not difficult, transport industry did not oppose it.
From January 1, 2021 the GST department has doubled the distance which is required to be covered in a day by a truck driver. Or we can say that the time was halved for the same distance. Either way it implies that the driver has to drive with double the speed in 2021 of what he was doing in 2020 or earlier.
The problem is with the decision-making process of the Government. No homework has been done by Government when they fixed up daily distance limit which needs to be travelled by a truck driver in a day; neither earlier nor now. Government did not study the transport model which involves Hub & Spoke Method, Transshipment of Goods at various locations, different effects of terrain and climate in different parts of India and most of all the Driver’s liberty. The demanded performance is almost impossible because of various inherent procedural issues of Indian Road Transport Model.
Penalties on Expiry/deficiency Eway bill under section 129 of GST
A movement of vehicle or consignment becomes illegal once an e-way bill expires. If a vehicle transporting with an expired e-way bill is intercepted by flying Squads of GST Inspectors, the vehicle as well as goods loaded are confiscated. The vehicle and the goods can be released on payment of Penalties prescribed by GST laws; which amounts to 200% of GST involved in a trade under Section 129 (1). The alternate of this is huge corruption.
Transporters are reeling under this draconian penalty amounting to tens of lakhs every day for no fault of theirs. A delay in transit time cannot be construed as a crime by any yard stick. A delay is an inherent risk in the process of transportation. Moreover, a truck driver cannot be put under peril of an accident which may be caused due to the burden of target fulfilment.
Not just E-way bill; Transport Industry is a fully neglected lot by Government of India. Ever increasing diesel prices has made it impossible for the transporters to honor their contracts with customers. Transportation rates can not be flexible as per daily changing diesel rates. The non-uniformity of prices across nation also makes it difficult to compete fairly.
Unfortunately, there is no correlation between International Crude Oil’s prices and the domestic refined diesel’s prices. The entire transport Industry of India is simmering with frustration and anger at the moment. The anger may erupt very strongly.
AITWA demands the following resolution:
- Abolish E-Way bill as newly introduced E-invoice is good enough for preventing of Tax Evasion. Vehicles may be tracked by Government using Fast Tag connectivity to E-Invoice.
- Transporters should not be subjected to any penalty by Government for any time-based compliance target of transit.
- Diesel prices should be reduced and mechanism needs to be discussed and created with Transport Industry for future regulation. Diesel prices should be equalized across length and breadth of nation.