PIL seeks to quash TN govt order on bus fare hike

 A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Madras High Court, seeking to quash an order of the Tamil Nadu government, hiking the bus fares from January 20.

The petition, filed by one V Munikrishnan, is likely to come up for hearing tomorrow.

Munikrishnan submitted that he came to know through the print and visual media that the state government has hiked the bus fares from January 20, citing various reasons like increase in diesel prices, spare parts, maintenance and salaries.

He said, as per statistics, 80 per cent of the people use buse for travelling, particularly the poor and middle class as it was more affordable compared to other modes of transport.

The petitioner alleged that the state government has been spending huge amounts of public money for achieving their political goals and shifting the burden on public by saying that there is a financial crisis in the transport department.

The sudden and steep fare hike had put people to irreparable hardship, Munikrishnan said, adding that those dependent on the bus services were now forced to spend 25 per cent of their salary as transport expenses.

When people were already suffering due to the Goods and Services Tax (GST), demonetisation and price hike in other basic necessities, the state government has hiked the bus fare against the welfare of the public, he added.

Petitioner’s counsel R Y George Williams made a mention before a division bench, comprising Justices R Subbiah and T Ravindran, that he be permitted to file a petition against the bus fare hike and the matter be heard early.

Granting permission, the bench said the matter would be heard tomorrow.

On January 19, the Tamil Nadu government hiked fares of buses under the state-run transport corporations and private entities by about 20 to 54.54 per cent.

The new fares came into effect from January 20.

The government also announced a fund for accident compensation and prevention, besides a panel to go into the restructuring of bus fares in the future.

It cited factors for the hike, including increase in fuel price and maintenance, annual increment in salaries, pension and purchase of the new buses to increase efficiency.

A recent interim direction of the Madras High Court in a transport-related petition was also cited to support the decision to effect a hike in fares.

Workers of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation owing allegiance to 17 trade unions, including those affiliated to the DMK and Left parties, had gone on strike on January 4 after failure of talks with the government on wage revision.

While the unions wanted a 2.57 times hike, the government offered only 2.44, resulting in a stalemate.

The strike severely crippled public sector bus services, causing immense hardship to the public, including office-goers in the cities though the government tried to maintain the services by roping in temporary drivers and private buses.

The AIADMK-backed union, besides some others, had not participated in the protests.

The unions had called off the strike on January 11 after the Madras High Court appointed an arbitrator to settle their wage dispute with the government.

Source : PTI

Indian economy on ‘very solid track’: IMF chief Christine Lagarde

Days after the International Monetary Fund lowered its growth forecast for the current and the next year, IMF chief Christine Lagarde today said the Indian economy is on a “very solid track” in the mid-term.

“Turning to India…we have slightly downgraded India; but we believe that India is for the medium and long-term on a growth track that is much more solid as a result of the structural reforms that have been conducted in India in the last couple of years,” the IMF Managing Director Lagarde said.

Describing the two major recent reforms in India – demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) – as a monumental effort, Lagarde said it is hardly surprising that there “is a little bit of a short-term slowdown” as a result.

“But for the medium term, we see a very solid track ahead for the Indian economy,” she said to a question on India.

“We very much hope that the combination of fiscal, because the deficit has been reduced, inflation has been down significantly, and the structural reforms will actually deliver the jobs that the Indian population, particularly the young Indian people expect in the future,” Lagarde said.

Source : PTI

GST has transformed economy: PM

Almost a month after the GST rollout, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said it has transformed the economy and marks an example of cooperative federalism as states have been partners in all the decisions related to the new indirect tax regime.

He said the “smooth transition” of such a huge measure in a vast country involving crores of people was historic and can be a case study for universities around the world.

The prime minister said the priority of the government, while ushering in the GST (Goods and Services Tax), has been that there should no burden on the plate of the poor man.

In his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’, Modi also spoke about various other issues like the flood situation in various parts of the country and mentioned about the freedom movement in view of the upcoming Independence Day.

In the 30-minute broadcast also stressed the need for using only the environment-friendly items made by the poor people of the country during the festivals and hailed the performance by the Indian Women’s Cricket team in the recent World Cup.

Referring to the GST which was rolled out on July 1, the prime minister said, “one nation, one tax — how big a dream has been fulfilled.”

Underlining that GST is more than just a tax reform, he said it ushers in a new culture.

“It has been about a month since the GST was implemented and I feel satisfied and happy when someone writes to me to say how the prices of goods needed by the poor have reduced,” Modi said.

“GST has transformed the economy,” Modi said.

“GST, which I call ‘Good and Simple Tax’, has really made a very positive impact on our economy and in such a short span of time,” he added.

He said the speed at which the smooth transition, migration and new registration has taken place has led to a new confidence in the country.

Describing GST rollout is an example of cooperative federalism, the prime minister said all states are partners in it and have a responsibility as well. “All decisions were taken by the Centre and the states through consensus,” he said.

Modi said is an example of success of the collective effort of India and marks a “historic achievement”.

He said it was not only a tax reform but “is a measure that lends strength to the new culture of honesty. In a way it is campaign for cultural improvement.”

The prime minister said the magnitude of the exercise is an example in itself and will surely be studied by the world.

Modi said the people from the North East, far off mountains and those living in the jungles have written letters, saying that initially there were fears but as they started understanding the GST, it became easy and business became easier.

“And the biggest thing is that the trust of customers in traders has started going up,” the prime minister said.

“I am seeing how GST has impacted upon the transport and logistics sector, how the movement of trucks has increased, how their travel time has decreased, how highways have become clutter-free.

“With the increase in the speed of trucks, pollution has also reduced. Delivery of goods has also been speeded up.

Besides making life easier, it also strengthens the economic progress,” he said.