Odisha Government Considers Tax Exemption For Bus Owners
To revive the COVID-hit private transport sector in Odisha, the state government is planning to waive tax for private bus owners. Odisha’s Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera stated that steps are being taken to assure normalising the bus services after lifting of the lockdown. “Currently, private buses are plying in as many as 20 Category A districts. The decision regarding plying of buses in 10 Category B districts will be taken soon,” said Behera. He further added that the exemption of taxes would be extended to the public transporters as an incentive.
The Bus Owners’ Association had earlier expressed their demands for tax exemption with the additional demand of the state government to provide them with a yearly interest-free loan of Rs one lakh per bus and other financial assistance to each staff. They had declared that the consecutive lockdown had resulted in a total lull and loss in the transportation business. The association had threatened to stop bus services across the State over non-fulfilment of their requirements.
On the issue of unlocking, some government sources have indicated that the state Government will decide regarding lockdown after analysing the COVID data. Bijay Mohapatra, the Director of Health Services in Odisha, had said that the government might decide the next unlocking criteria after analysing the present pandemic situation.
“Covid situation across the State will be considered while announcing the next phase of unlocking. Steps are being taken to bring Covid infection levels further down in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar,” he said.
Notably, Odisha has around 14,000 private buses that play a major role in boosting public transport. When the lockdown had hit these businesses, thousands of bus owners and staff members dependent on the service underwent a financial crisis.