The Goods and Services Tax Council ended its three-day meeting a day ahead of schedule on Wednesday after states failed to reach a consensus on the rate bands for the new regime, The Hindureported. The Council will now discuss the rate structure in its next meetings on November 3 and 4.
The states also reportedly failed to come to an agreement on the Centre’s proposal to impose a cess over the GST on luxury items. Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said the states were of the opinion that it was not possible to segregate goods and services. He said, “For instance, restaurants register for both service tax and Value Added Tax [which is imposed exclusively on goods].”
Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the final tax slabs would depend on the source of funds that the Centre intends to use to compensate states for revenue losses incurred after the shift to the GST regime, NDTV reported. Jaitley said that while all the members of the Council had “converged towards a consensus”, the details would be worked out during the Council’s next meetings.
On Tuesday, the Council discussed a four-slab rate band structure with the lowest rate of 6% to be imposed on essential items, and the highest rate of 26% for luxury goods and demerit items such as tobacco, cigarettes, aerated drinks, and polluting items. It also discussed standard rates of 12% and 18%. It further proposed the exemption of food items and 50% of commonly used items from the purview of the GST.
Adhia had said that less than 10% of the taxable goods would fall in the lowest rate bracket, while 70% of the taxable base would come in the lower and standard rate brackets. About 25% of the tax base would fall in the highest rate bracket, he had said, adding that fast-moving consumer goods and consumer durable products would attract 26% GST rate, against the current 31%.
The GST Bill got President Pranab Mukherjee’s approval on September 8, after being ratified by 16 states. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 3.
Making two-wheelers less polluting to combat air pollution in India
Innovations focusing on two-wheelers can make a difference in facing the challenges brought about by climate change.
Two-wheelers are the lifeline of urban Asia, where they account for more than half of the vehicles owned in some countries. This trend is amply evident in India, where sales in the sub-category of mopeds alone rose 23% in 2016-17. In fact, one survey estimates that today one in every three Indian households owns a two-wheeler.
What explains the enduring popularity of two-wheelers? In one of the fastest growing economies in the world, two-wheeler ownership is a practical aspiration in small towns and rural areas, and a tactic to deal with choked roads in the bigger cities. Two-wheelers have also allowed more women to commute independently with the advent of gearless scooters and mopeds. Together, these factors have led to phenomenal growth in overall two-wheeler sales, which rose by 27.5% in the past five years, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). Indeed, the ICE 2016 360 survey says that two-wheelers are used by 37% of metropolitan commuters to reach work, and are owned by half the households in India’s bigger cities and developed rural areas.
Amid this exponential growth, experts have cautioned about two-wheelers’ role in compounding the impact of pollution. Largely ignored in measures to control vehicular pollution, experts say two-wheelers too need to be brought in the ambit of pollution control as they contribute across most factors determining vehicular pollution - engine technology, total number of vehicles, structure and age of vehicles and fuel quality. In fact, in major Indian cities, two-thirds of pollution load is due to two-wheelers. They give out 30% of the particulate matter load, 10 percentage points more than the contribution from cars. Additionally, 75% - 80% of the two-wheelers on the roads in some of the Asian cities have two-stroke engines which are more polluting.
The Bharat Stage (BS) emissions standards are set by the Indian government to regulate pollutants emitted by vehicles fitted with combustion engines. In April 2017, India’s ban of BS III certified vehicles in favour of the higher BS IV emission standards came into effect. By April 2020, India aims to leapfrog to the BS VI standards, being a signatory to Conference of Parties protocol on combating climate change. Over and above the BS VI norms target, the energy department has shown a clear commitment to move to an electric-only future for automobiles by 2030 with the announcement of the FAME scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India).
The struggles of on-ground execution, though, remain herculean for automakers who are scrambling to upgrade engine technology in time to meet the deadlines for the next BS norms update. As compliance with BS VI would require changes in the engine system itself, it is being seen as one of the most mammoth R&D projects undertaken by the Indian automotive industry in recent times. Relative to BS IV, BS VI norms mandate a reduction of particulate matter by 82% and of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by 68%.
Emission control in fuel based two-wheelers can be tackled on several fronts. Amongst post-emission solutions, catalytic converters are highly effective. Catalytic converters transform exhaust emissions into less harmful compounds. They can be especially effective in removing hydrocarbons, nitrous oxides and carbon monoxide from the exhaust.
At the engine level itself, engine oil additives are helpful in reducing emissions. Anti-wear additives, friction modifiers, high performance fuel additives and more lead to better performance, improved combustion and a longer engine life. The improvement in the engine’s efficiency as a result directly correlates to lesser emissions over time. Fuel economy of a vehicle is yet another factor that helps determine emissions. It can be optimised by light weighting, which lessens fuel consumption itself. Light weighting a vehicle by 10 pounds can result in a 10-15-pound reduction of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Polymer systems that can bear a lot of stress have emerged as reliable replacements for metals in automotive construction.
BASF, the pioneer of the first catalytic converter for automobiles, has been at the forefront of developing technology to help automakers comply with advancing emission norms while retaining vehicle performance and cost-efficiency. Its new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Mahindra World City near Chennai is equipped to develop a range of catalysts for diverse requirements, from high performance and recreational bikes to economy-oriented basic transportation. BASF also leverages its additives expertise to provide compounded lubricant solutions, such as antioxidants, anti-wear additives and corrosion inhibitors and more. At the manufacturing level, BASF’s R&D in engineered material systems has led to the development of innovative materials that are much lighter than metals, yet just as durable and strong. These can be used to manufacture mirror brackets, intake pipes, step holders, clutch covers, etc.
With innovative solutions on all fronts of automobile production, BASF has been successfully collaborating with various companies in making their vehicles emission compliant in the most cost-effective way. You can read more about BASF’s innovations in two-wheeler emission control here, lubricant solutions here and light weighting solutions here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.