PUNE: Beginning on August 15, the state government will eliminate escort fees assessed by the state’s 26 local corporations. Escort fees are collected for commodities that merely need to cross municipal boundaries and are not intended for consumption or sale. The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) levies an escort fee of Rs 100 per car. Escort charges were previously collected as part of octroi, which was abolished on April 1 and replaced with LBT, according to Yashwant Mane, assistant commissioner and head of the local body tax (LBT) cell of the PCMC. “Shrikant Singh, principal secretary, state urban development department presided over a meeting of senior civic officials of various municipal corporations last month in Mumbai and told officials to stop the collection of escort charge from August 15,” Mane said. Despite objections from traders, the civic entities persisted in collecting escort fees. The remaining 20 municipal corporations will stop the collection. According to Mane, “The civic bodies were keeping the octroi posts functional only for collecting escort charges. They incurred expenditure on the salaries of the civic employees deployed at these octroi posts. Six municipal corporations had stopped the collection of escort charges as the revenue earned from it was very low compared to the expenditure on maintaining the octroi posts. According to Mane, the civic organization has collected Rs 4.76 crore in escort fees through July 31. According to him, Singh had instructed the civic representatives to submit ideas for an adjustment of the LBT rates to make up for the loss caused by the elimination of escort fees. On August 2, PCMC sent the proposal. As Pimpri Chinchwad is an industrial hub, Mane said, “We have advised that LBT charges be increased in all sectors except industries. We have asked the state government to not increase LBT costs on commodities that will lead to increase in production cost for the industries. Pimpri Chinchwad Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture President Appasaheb Shinde expressed delight with the decision to eliminate escort fees. The elimination of escort fees, according to Nitin Bankar, head of the Pimpri Chinchwad Small Industries Association, will allow carriers to go more quickly because they will not have to stop at octroi stations.
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