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Railways opposes high GST on container transportation, rues unfair advantage to roads

Compared to the road sector’s uniform 5%, the Goods and Services Tax for the container trains is 12.5%, which, it said, will put the rail sector to “grave disadvantage”.

india Updated: May 24, 2017 14:35 IST
Srinand Jha
Srinand Jha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Railways,Goods and Services Tax (GST),container
A man walks on a railway track as freight trains are parked at Tughlakabad railway station in New Delhi.(REUTERS FILE PHOTO)

A rail versus road competition is building up, as the Railways Ministry has opposed a plan to impose 12.5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on container transport operations.

With the GST regime scheduled to take effect from July 1, a uniform tax of a mere 5% is proposed for the road sector.

“Because of this discrepancy, the rail sector will be put to grave disadvantage,” the Railways said in a letter to the finance ministry.

With the onset of the GST regime, a marginal hike is likely in passenger fares. But container services will take a hit if the current proposals are implemented, a senior ministry official warned.

Over the past decades, the Railways have been losing freight transportation share to roads and ships, but remains a strong player in container operations. From an estimated 70% in 1947, the market share of Railways’ freight operations has fallen to an estimated 30% today.

So far, the tax on freight operations, including container trains, has remained at 4.2% of the total transportation cost.

The rollout of GST will also translate into a marginal hike in passenger fares. The tax will increase from the current 4.3% of the fare to 5%.

First Published: May 24, 2017 10:39 IST