Expert Speak

The Art of Learning to Live Without Free Lunches

Art of Learning

The biggest display of the dislike of the proposed VAT (Value Added Tax) was the transport strike that concluded finally on April 24th. There is no doubt that the ten days transport strike called by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) took its toll on business.

p____p The common man faced the brunt, as the prices and movement of essential goods was affected. Besides affecting the delivery of fast moving goods and perishable commodities like fruits and vegetables, the hardware trade too was hit by the agitation. The prices and execution of orders were affected and inventories went for a toss.

p____p The transporters were practically holding the country and its citizenry to ransom while waiting for the demands to be met. And when one sifts through the list of demands, there seem tomany unreasonable items also.

p____p For instance, I agree with the opinion that there is no justification of the demand for withdrawal of toll charges on highways. The toll taxes are integral to the maintenance of better roads and facilitate faster and more reliable transport of goods. Can people just break their habits of feasting on free lunches? Only then, can the country move forward. Of course, the government must assure that the toll taxes are structured on a very sound basis and levied without the accompanying mental harassment.

p____p Of course, the real motif of the strike, which the transporters spearheaded, was the intention to bring to a standstill the action on VAT and amendments to the Carriers� Act. The fear is that this will expose them to taxation on their true income. Under the system of VAT, the name of the carrier (transporter) will be mentioned in the goods transfer papers.

p____p Of course, it is another matter that the government understood the real game and played smart. The strike was finally called off by the AIMTC when it realized that negotiations between the All India Confederation of Goods Vehicle Owners Associations (ACOGOA), on behalf of truck operators and the government, would erode their credibility.

p____p On a concluding note, I know that old habits die hard but if we learn to pay and use and also the art of tax-compliance, there could be lesser problems for all of us. And there could be better ways of negotiating than a brazen call to strike.

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