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Pune corporates hope for early end to truckers' strike

Our Bureau

Pune , Aug. 26

AFTER Monday what? This is the question that is uppermost in the minds of the Pune industrialists who have been able to pull along with their just in time inventories as there seems to be no solution to the ongoing truckers strike.

Talking to Business Line, Mr Arun Firodia, Chairman, Kinetic Engineering Ltd, noted that the truckers' strike has not had much of an impact as depots and dealers still have stocks to cater to the market.

"However, if the strike continues after Monday, we would have to stop production at out factories,'' he said. "I think this is the only time when the holidays, Sunday and Raksha Bandan, would help us out from this difficult situation,'' he pointed out.

Industry leaders have also started expressing concern as most of the stocks are fast disappearing while the inventories are piling up in the absence of the truck movement.

At the Pimpri Chinchwad industrial belt, which houses most of the major automobile companies, including Tata Motors, Bajaj Auto, Kinetic, DaimlerChrysler, there is a long line of trucks, either waiting to be loaded or unloaded outside the factory premises.

Mr Harbhajan Singh, Chairman of the Association of Transporters, noted that the association required clarification on the service tax of 10 per cent being levied.

He pointed out that the recovery from the industries for transport varied anywhere between 30 and 150 days and "it was not feasible for the transporters to deposit the 10 per cent service tax that is being asked for. It should be more like when the recovery is made, we would be happy to deposit the amount. Till that time, we require some leeway,'' he said.

Currently about 60 per cent of the transport was by road and the remaining by the Railways, he added. And the fact is that no service tax is being levied on the Railways for the transport of materials across the country.

"If this situation persists, then it would be 60 per cent by Railways and the rest by road transport. What we would recommend is that the service tax which is proposed to be levied should be across the board, be it Railways or road,'' he added.

Mr D.K. Abhayankar, Director-General, Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), in a statement noted that the chamber appreciated the cause for clarification on the levy of service tax. However, in the larger interest of society, the chamber has urged the transport associations to withdraw the strike.

"We feel that the misconception could be sorted out through negotiations with the appropriate Government Authorities,'' he has said. He noted that though essential commodities have been exempted from the scope of the strike, prices have increased by at least 10 per cent in most of the major markets. He stressed that the strike had certainly disrupted movement of commodities and also had blocked movement of goods out of ports causing congestion.

"Both, Government and the industry will be losing revenue and precious mandays and the labour will suffer adversely due to loss of income. Therefore it is in the interest of all that the ongoing strike ends at the earliest,'' he added.

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