Hope for resur­gence

The lo­gis­tics sec­tor in FY-2014-15

Cargo Talk - - Front Page - CT BU­REAU

In a few days, the lo­gis­tics sec­tor of In­dia will know for sure if their hopes and needs will be ad­dressed by the new govern­ment. Or, if they will be swept un­der the car­pet like al­ways. It is the old­est chest­nut in the sec­tor that lo­gis­tics and cargo is one of the most (if not the numero uno) heav­ily-taxed, un­or­gan­ised and over­looked in­dus­tries in the coun­try. The ex­perts can talk of dou­ble-tax­a­tion, pal­try or nonex­is­tent con­ces­sions from the govern­ment au­thor­i­ties, ar­chaic by­laws pro­vid­ing a man­date for cur­rent sce­nar­ios, and the lack of min­istry for the sec­tor till they go hoarse, and more.

But now there is a new slo­gan in the coun­try, and the sec­tor wants to be­lieve in it, too. The pre­sent govern­ment has emerged with strong ma­jor­ity, and a de­ci­sive Cen­tre has the power to change the cur­rent stale­mate. The ef­fect is enough to make in­ter­na­tional

neigh­bours sit up and make a bee­line to re­fresh re­la­tions with In­dia. The Bud­get 2014-15 will be one of the most an­tic­i­pated events of the year, and dare say, of the last few Bud­gets that the sec­tor had to see.

Whether it is the ques­tion of en­abling Goods and Ser­vice Tax, of re­duc­ing mul­ti­ple tax­a­tion across the states for sur­face lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies, en­cour­ag­ing ef­fi­cient dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels, of in­creas­ing ca­pac­ity and ef­fi­ciency of our ports, creat­ing more cold-stor­age hubs at air­ports, less­en­ing air­port charges for freight

op­er­a­tors, and creat­ing road/rail su­per-high­ways (aka the much-touted Sa­gar Mala project), ev­ery­thing is on the block now.

In­dus­try ex­perts speak hopes, both high and yet cau­tious, of what they ex­pect from the govern­ment. Many speak of repli­cat­ing the Gu­jarat model of creat­ing a ‘lo­gis­ti­cal heaven’. But oth­ers cau­tion that what works for one state, may not work for the en­tire na­tion.

The cargo and lo­gis­tics op­er­a­tors in In­dia, both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional, have been re­buffed too many times in too many Bud­gets of suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments.

But de­spite ev­ery­thing above, hope springs eter­nal.

CARGOTALK sought opin­ions of in­dus­try stal­warts on what ex­pec­ta­tions they had from the up­com­ing Bud­get, and the at­ti­tude was akin to op­ti­mism. It has been long since there was strong govern­ment, and longer still for the coun­try to look for­ward to resur­gence. And the cargo in­dus­try is hop­ing again, that the winds of change will favour them this time.

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