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Telangana unfit for top rank in ‘Ease of Doing Business’: Travel operators

Hyderabad: The transport operators of Telangana have strongly condemned the State Government for not responding to the grievances expressed by the industry seeking relief in view of lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is highly unfortunate that the Government of Telangana is not willing to resolve the problems being faced by transport operators in the State. Our industry contributes nearly Rs. 2,500 crore of revenues to the State while providing nearly 5-6 lakh jobs, directly and indirectly. But for Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, our industry apparently doesn’t exist.

He did not even respond to various representations submitted seeking waiver of Advance Motor Vehicle Tax for the lockdown period for contract carriage vehicles and Maxi cabs.

Transport Minister Ajay Kumar is not accessible and all top officials including Principal Secretary and Transport Commissioner have expressed their inability to help the industry in this hour of crisis,” Telangana State Cabs and Bus Operators (TSCBOA) President Syed Nizamuddin said in a media statement on Sunday.

The TSCBOA President said that the travel operators did no business ever since the imposition of lockdown on March 22. “Our vehicles have remained parked in garages in the last four months. But the State Government is asking us to pay Advance Tax although we did not earn a single rupee of revenue.

While we are making desperate attempts to get the MV Tax waived, the Transport Department has imposed heavy penalties for Tax Arrears. For instance, for those having Tax Arrears of Rs. 42,840 are now being asked to pay Rs. 117,860 including Penalty.

Despite a case going on in the High Court, the Transport Department has sent notices asking us to pay the arrears and a huge penalty,” he said.

Nizamuddin alleged that the State Government has adopted an inhuman treatment towards the transport operators. “We’ve made multiple representations to the top officials and even held symbolic protests. We’ve also approached the High Court seeking justice. We are expecting the State Government to provide us some relief to help us overcome the crisis that occurred due to lockdown.

The transport industry has already lost its business due to the closure of IT and tourism industries. It will take more than a year for us to recover from the losses. In this scenario, instead of helping, the State Government is penalising the travel industry. This attitude will not only crush the entire industry, but it will also have an impact on the revenues of the State Government.

If the travel operators are forced to shut down their businesses, then they won’t be paying MV and other taxes to the government. Consequently, the government will register a huge dip in revenues from the transport department. Further, at least five lakh people would lose jobs if the travel industry fails to emerge out of crisis,” he said.

The TSCBOA President said that the attitude of the State Government towards the transport operators clearly shows that Telangana doesn’t deserve to be on top in the list of States with ‘Ease of Doing Business’. While it may be easier for a company to start business in Telangana, it is highly difficult to run your business as the State Government will not respond if you have any grievances.

He said that the State Government was trying to woo foreign investors, but neglecting the existing industry in Telangana. He threatened that the travel operators would write to ranking agencies to remove Telangana from the top in the ‘Ease of Doing Business’. He said that the TSCBOA would also write letters to all potential investors warning them about the risk of setting up their business in Telangana as the State Government does not respond to the problems being faced by the industry.

He said that the entire travel industry was on the verge of collapse due to the lockdown and State Government’s refusal to address the problems being faced by the industry.

Nizamuddin said that the travel operators would explore all legal means to get required relief and expressed confidence that they would get justice from the court. He requested the Chief Minister to waive off the MV Tax for the lockdown period and also withdraw the heavy penalties imposed on Tax Arrears. (INN)

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