Millennium Post

Ease cash withdrawal limits for logistics and transport fleet owners: Assocham

Industry body Assocham has urged the government to uncap cash withdrawal for logistics and transport fleet owners, arguing that their operational expenses are higher.

Assocham observed that “the note ban has come as a bottleneck to the transport business”.

“The chamber has urged the government to review the cash withdrawal limit of Rs 50,000 from the current account per week and raise it to minimum Rs 4-5 lakh (for transport fleet owners) which is bare minimum,” Assocham said.The government de-legalised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes on November 8, in a sudden crackdown on black money and terror financing.

Drawing inputs from various sources, the Assocham study on Transport and Logistics noted that close to 10 per cent of the expenses of trucks on trunk routes are accounted for by drivers and other support crew who are part of the journeys which take 7-8 days on a single trip.

“The entire expenses of the drivers and other crew are to be met by cash. In the wake of the demonetisation of high value notes, the fleet owners are facing problems in operations,” said the chamber.

While fuel accounts for 52-66 per cent of the total trip expenses, another 25-40 per cent outgo is towards sub heads like tolls, octroi, speedy clearance at check posts etc.

Besides, the study also suggested that to promote seamless inter-state freight flows, a green channel should be adopted for transit of secure/sealed containerized cargo.

Presently, there are 177 inter-state check posts and 268 toll barriers on national highways. Stepping up its efforts to trace black money parked abroad, India has shot off at least 20 ‘administrative assistance’ requests to Switzerland in recent months seeking details of Indians suspected to have misused Swiss banks’ famed high-secrecy walls to evade taxes.

The individuals and companies about whom India has requested for information include at least three listed companies, former CEO of a real estate major, wife of a Delhi- based former bureaucrat, a Dubai-based Indian origin investment banker, a high-profile fugitive along with his wife and an UAE-based holding company, as also some Gujarati businessmen settled abroad and presumably in trading business.

Many of these are suspected to have maintained accounts in Swiss banks through offshore entities, including in Panama and British Virgin Islands.

These requests for ‘administrative assistance’, which typically involves exchange of information on submission of proof by the requesting country about the account holder’s wrongdoing, have been documented by Swiss authorities in their Federal Gazette as per local laws to give the concerned person or entity a last chance to appeal against sharing of data.

While India and Switzerland last week signed a new pact for automatic exchange of information about account details September 2018 onwards, the pending requests have been made under their existing bilateral tax treaty.

In the past also, names of some Indian nationals figured in Switzerland’s Federal Gazette notifications after the Swiss authorities were approached by India for information about those people with regard to the pending tax-related probes against them. After following the due process prescribed under Swiss law, the information has been shared by Switzerland with India in some cases, pursuant to which the Indian authorities -- including the tax department and Enforcement Directorate -- have proceeded with their prosecution and other actions. 
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