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The Bus and Car Operators Confederation of India has announced that roughly 20 lakh people have lost employment in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. The Confederation also said that an additional 20 lakh people will most likely lose their jobs.
The Confederation represents 20,000 private operators that run 11 lakh tourist taxis, and 15 lakh buses that directly employ a total of one crore people. The BCOCI said that these operators are in need of support from the Government.
Many of the bus and tourist taxi operators are in the process of having to shut shop because of a lack of funds. Operators are unable to pay salaries to their employees. The need of the hour is support in the form of a waiver of taxes and interest on loans.
The BCOCI said that 90 percent of the buses and tourist taxis were lying idle during the lockdown, and a limited number of bus operators had company contracts and some were used while ferrying migrant workers.
Mr Prasanna Patwardhan, the President at the Bus and Car Operators Confederation of India said, "At least out of the 1 crore people, 30-40 lakh people will lose their jobs, 15-20 lakh people have already lost their jobs. The rest will also lose their jobs."
"From September onwards, once the (RBI order on loan) moratorium is over and when operators will not be able to pay their EMIs, that is the time when it is going to hit the hardest," he added.
The Confederation has asked for Government intervention and has requested for a waiver against motor vehicle taxes, toll-free rides across the country for inter-city travel, and concession on diesel prices.
The BCOCI has also asked for an extension against vehicle insurance policies by a minimum of three months. The Confederation added that insurance costs operators between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh per vehicle, per year.
Mr Patwardhan also asked for a waiver of interest against vehicle loans. He said that banks should waive off the interest for between three and six months, and should not levy any interest during the moratorium period.
He said, "From September, when the EMI payments are to restart, businesses are not going to start immediately and come back to normal. So rescheduling of loans is also equally important. They should give us a 'ballooning kind' of EMI wherein the initial EMI is less and going forward that EMI will go up,"
The Confederation added that that banks should also extend tenures for current loans by 12 months in order to ease things out for operators. They also reiterated their long standing demand for 'One Nation, One Tax'.
"This is the time we should make some structural reforms," Patwardhan said.
The BCOCI feels that while the Government has offered support to the rest of the economy, the Public Transport Industry has been neglected. The lockdown has had negative financial implications on passenger transport companies.
Operators are anxious at the moment because there is uncertainty about resumption of operations, and no guidelines for safety and social distancing for the sector.
Thoughts About The BCOCI's Statements
This is a tough situation to be in. We think the Government needs to extend support to the Public Transport Industry immediately. People movement is a big part of local and national economies.