SCORES of high-end cars owned by Goans have been registered in other states to avoid payment of higher road tax in the state. Though the transport department has sought to proceed against them, the government is yet to give its nod for them to go ahead. The transport department, which sent the file seeking approval of action from government about seven months ago, is still waiting for guidelines and action plan to start its drive. Though the number of vehicles registered by Goans in other states and Union Territories has not been quantified as yet, it could run into hundreds according to rough estimates. Ever since the state government raised road tax, especially for high-end cars, a number of Goan buyers have preferred to register their vehicles including imported ones in other states or Union Territories where registration fee is far lower. The states like Jharkhand and UTs like Puducherry and Daman and Diu charge a mere one to three per cent of the value of the cars as road tax as against 8 to 16 per cent Goa takes. The cars registered in other states ply on the state’s roads without paying road tax!
According to the Central Motor Vehicles Act, a vehicle can be registered anywhere in the country, a provision several Goan owners of high-end vehicles have been taking advantage of. The transport department has learnt that these owners attach a false affidavit and a notarised copy of false rental agreement in the registering state for showing local address ‘proof’ which is necessary for vehicle registration. Goa’s transport officials are helpless in proving the ‘fraud’ unless they manage to get the supporting data from the registering state, which they feel is time consuming and cumbersome. According to the rules, a vehicle registered in any state of the country can keep moving between places but it has to be registered within a state if it is to be driven there continuously for a period of more than six months. Many of the vehicles registered in other states have been running on Goan roads in contravention of these rules and thus their owners are liable for action. It has been brought to the notice of the transport department that the owners of these cars take them out on the roads late in the evenings or in the night to avoid being spotted and proceeded against. The transport department has an action plan ready to identify the expensive cars registered in other states and give their owners a month’s time to register their vehicles in the state by paying the due taxes to the state or face action, which may include confiscation of the vehicle. The transport department could collect crores of rupees as revenue if the government quickly approves its action plan.
It is not only the owners of high-end cars. The state government has also been losing out on revenue from sleeper coaches of public transport that are registered in low-road tax states, including distant Arunachal Pradesh. Scores of sleeper coaches ply on interstate routes from Goa on daily basis. While expensive cars are registered in low-road tax states to evade higher road tax, sleeper coaches are registered as the state did not have its own guidelines to facilitate registration of such vehicles. The transport department has belatedly woken up and framed guidelines which will help it to register sleeper coaches. The transport department is ready with a plan for making the buyers of sleeper coaches to register with them before operating them for public transport.
It is a matter of shame that people who have the means to buy top-end cars from manufacturers in India or import them from abroad do not want to pay road tax to the state whose roads they are using for driving in their expensive cars. The manufacturers of high-end cars in India and abroad have been increasing the prices of their products quite progressively, often more than the inflation, citing rising costs. The buyers of the expensive cars do not mind paying as much as the seller of the car asks for. But when it comes to paying to the public exchequer, they think it is a ‘waste of money.’ They go as far east as Arunachal Pradesh or as deep in the south as Puducherry to avoid ‘waste of money’ on road tax in Goa. If they think the road tax in Goa is on the higher side, they can represent to the government for a rethinking on and rationalisation of the tax.