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This is a thread on the #FasTag fiasco - why the intentions are dubious and why it deserves to be classified as a scam
While the NaMo Govt would like us to believe that #FasTag is meant for the convenience of users, the real reasons appear to lie elsewhere - particularly the notoriously opaque revenue streams from road projects.
Road project concessionaires are known to not indulge in gross cost padding - which translates directly into higher tolls - but divert revenue streams away from their loan obligations, which has brought only grief to banks, especially PSBs
Toll operators are supposed to deposit revenues into designated escrow accounts so that the banks enjoy first charge on the revenue streams arising from the project for which they have lent huge amounts. When tolls are paid in cash operators are able to avoid paying banks
Now having #FasTags to solve this is VERY different from having them for the convenience of road users. But here comes the scam. The scheme is implemented by the IHMCL, which is a private company promoted by NHAI in which toll operators own 33.81 per cent. The banks own 24.81 %
How can the government FORCE users to compulsorily move on to a private platform or coerce them to pay double the normal toll? This is sheer Dadagiri.This is where the plot thickens.Turns out the the banks - may be some banks - may be the key beneficiaries. Remember NaMo's DeMo?
The Merchant Discount Rate on #FasTag is an unconscionably high 4 per cent. Of this 70 % goes to the banks participating in the game. 20 % goes to IMHCL and 5 per cent to NPCI. There are those who speciously argue that the "user" does not pay the MDR, only the toll operator.
This is not even clever. It is like arguing that when I buy something at a shop I don't pay the GST, but that it is the shopkeeper who pays it! Similarly, the eventual burden will fall, on road users, if not now, later when the toll is revised as is usually the case.
If the purpose of this exercise was to check abuse of the system by toll operators, there coiuld be other ways in which this could have been done, without burdening millions of road users with a Tughlaqian scheme.
For example, if the govt just wanted to plug the loophole to maintain an exact count of how many vehicles passed through tolls in order to collect legitimate revenues, it could have merely installed sensors that count vehicles. Why burden the whole country?
It is clear that the only beneficiaries are the banks. They make money by issuing the cards, make money because of the idle deposits lying in #FasTag accounts, make money on EVRY transaction and also collect their dues from truant toll operators.
When an entire country has to pay so that one class of people benefit disproportionately, what else can you call it but a scam. That this is happening in the name of improved efficiency is a travesty of the truth. This is why #FasTag , DeMo and GST are close cousins.
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