Kochi: The LDF government has proposed a ‘Special Protective package’ to effect a turnaround of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), the biggest loss-making public sector undertaking last fiscal. The main focus of the package will be on rolling out 1000 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-operated buses based in Kochi in the next five years, according to the revised budget presented by Finance Minister Thomas Issac.
“Currently the KSRTC is incurring a monthly loss of Rs 85 crore. The organization can’t be run for long with the current financial state and it calls for an urgent protective package. The corporation should be able to convert most of its buses to CNG-operated ones in the next five years,” he said.
The budget envisaged making available Rs 300 crore loan from the Special Investment project to roll out the 1000 buses based in Ernakulam where the CNG outlets will be setup first. “We expect Rs 50 crore expense in the current financial year itself…The total outstanding dues of the corporation has touched Rs 3446.92 crore. Steps need to be taken up for financial restructuring of the corporation to lessen the debt,” Issac said.
Also, the Transport department is preparing a package for cutting down the operational expense and developing the infrastructure at bus depots. “This will focus on modernization of depots and making them financially viable through steps like leasing of commercial space. A time-bound programme for increasing the fuel efficiency and cutting down of mishaps will be implemented. The staff will be given training for this,” the minister said. The government would also extend monthly financial aid for enabling the corporation meet its pension commitments as for the time-being.
Inter-state luxury buses to be dearer
Commuters need to dole more for travel in inter-state luxury buses soon as the LDF government on Friday proposed to levy increased tax on such contract carriage vehicles. The vehicles which are registered in the state and operated as contract carriage service to other states and vice-versa now need to pay Rs 2250 per seat (vehicles with ordinary seats), Rs 3500 per seat (vehicles with push-back seats) and Rs 4000 per seats (vehicles with sleeper berth seats) as tri-monthly tax.
Finance Minister Thomas Issac, during presentation of revised budget for 2016-17, also sought to unify the tax rates of vehicles registered in other states, but operating to various centres here, and vehicles registered in the state but conducting inter-state services. Meanwhile, new criteria for tax levying will be applied to stage carriers. Now total floor area of the vehicles will be the basis for tax calculation instead of seats -- Rs 1300 per sqmtr for ordinary buses other then city/ town services, Rs 1360 per sqmtr for ordinary buses used for city/ town services and Rs 1400 for fast passenger and other high class services.
Through the measures, the government aims to effect an increase in revenue through taxes by Rs 20 lakhs under various heads. The Finance Minister also announced the decision to effect 10 per cent increase in tax on goods carriage vehicles other than tipper lorries and those with gross vehicle weight over `20, 000 kg.