A meeting to increase the permit fee for commercial vehicles remained inconclusive here on Monday with the Government sticking to its stance to increase the fee and transport unions opposing the hike.

The meeting was held between the Road Ministry officials and transport unions to review the level of national permit fee. Permit fee is what commercial vehicles pay to State Governments to ply or pick cargo from those States.

The present national fee of Rs 15,000 a year was fixed in May 2010, and is being reviewed in the light of the income of State Governments' from this account. State Government collections have declined to Rs 1,089 crore in 2010-11, a dip of 8 per cent compared with the previous year.

Against this backdrop, the Union Ministry wants to hike the fee to Rs 20,000 a year. The Ministry is also considering the option of a differential permit fee structure for multi-axle vehicles.

A Ministry source says that the Ministry wants to ensure that the State Governments at least remain revenue-neutral on account of the newer permit fee levels.

But transport unions oppose the move. “We are against the move to increase the permit fee. We are also not going to accept differential permit fee for commercial vehicles, based on the number of axles,” Mr Bal Malkit Singh, President, All India Motor Transport Congress. The next date of meeting has not been decided.

CURRENT PERMIT REGIME

According to the current national permit system, a trucker is required to pay Rs 15,000 annually. Prior to May 2010, truckers were required to pay Rs 5,000 for each State a year. “In practice, a national permit for trucks in the earlier regime meant a Rs 20,000 payout since trucks usually ply on dedicated trunk routes — spread across four States,” Mr S.P. Singh, Senior Fellow, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training, said.

So, even if a truck plied between Punjab and Tamil Nadu — which could be one of the longest trunk routes, passing through six States — the total permit fee would amount to Rs 30,000 a year in the pre-2010 regime. For a truck plying across six States, this resulted in a benefit of Rs 15,000 annually or Rs 1,250 a month for each truck.

As the Ministry meets various transport associations on the issue, the foundation has called for linking the level of national permit (called India Permit) to the wholesale price index with periodic reviews.

The national permit fee is less than 2 per cent of the overall annual cost of a truck. For more than half the trucks, the permit fee is about 1.05 per cent of annual cost, says the foundation.

mamuni@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 30, 2012)
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