With an eye on the Assembly elections, the BJP-led government is likely to recommend to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council to lower the indirect tax levy on multimodal transport operators from 12% to 5%.
The GST rate cut is one of the key elements of a fresh package of concessions being worked out by the State for private port operators. The proposed amendments to the State’s Port Policy 2016 include a reduction in port and wharfage charges for major and non-major ports, sources said. The amendments will be considered by the State Cabinet this month, and are likely to benefit 500 minor as well as major ports.
Officials said the changes to the policy have been proposed based on a representation made by the Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA), Association of Multimodal Transport Operators of India (AMTOI), and other stakeholders.
“The INSA has requested that the benefits to industries under the Industrial Policy be extended to cargo carriers as well. It also said charges of non-major ports are higher as compared to major ports. We have promised to examine the issue carefully,” a transport department official said.
Officials said currently, the 5% GST on road transport operators is lesser than that imposed on the multimodal operators, who have to pay 12%. The AMTOI had requested the government to ensure a reduction in this duty. The government has promised to take up the issue with the Centre once the AMTOI provides relevant data to back its claims.
The changes would also reduce the current rebate given on inter- and intra-State movement to ports and jetties. The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) have put the focus on the development of ports along the national waterways. “We have decided to ensure the capital dredging work too goes on in coordination between the State, the MMB, and the MIDC,” the official said.
Additionally, the amendments will address security concerns around ports in Maharashtra. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had, along with the Indian Navy, recently declared 20 ports in Raigad as sensitive, and informed the Assembly about it. Of the 591 ports in the State, 20 in Raigad district have been categorized as sensitive by the Navy. The naval inspection had recommended a security beef-up for these ports.