In line with the government’s digital mission, the Finance Ministry has announced a 0.75 percent discount on digital payments at fuel stations and 10% at toll plazas.
Typically, if a hatchback owner tanks up his car’s 35-litre fuel tank and makes a digital payment, he stands to get a Rs 15 discount on 30 litres or Rs 2,000 worth of petrol. Finance minister Arun Jaitley has also said that no service tax will be charged on digital transactions up to Rs 2,000 per transaction.
According to official figures by the government, nearly 4.5 crore customers buy petrol or diesel at petrol pumps everyday. It is estimated that fuel worth Rs 1,800 crore is sold everyday, out of which nearly 20% is paid through digital means. In the month of November, it has increased to 40% and the cash transaction of Rs 360 crore per day have got shifted to cashless transaction methods.
"The incentive scheme has the potential of shifting at least 30% more customer to digital means which will further reduce the cash requirement of nearly Rs 2 lakh crore per year at the petrol pumps," said the government's official statement.
For those making digital payments at toll plazas on National Highways, there is a discount of 10% for motorists using RFID card/Fast Tags. After demonetisation, the government had announced the exemption of toll on National Highways with effect from November 9, 2016 (17:30 hours) to December 2, 2016 (midnight). The exemption led to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) bearing a Rs 1,200 crore loss.
Meanwhile, in a bid to tackle the cash crunch, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) is implementing an Electronic Fee Collection (EFC) system on National Highways in the country to allow cashless transactions. In order to remove bottlenecks and ensure seamless movement of traffic and collection of fee as per notified rates, a cashless payment mechanism (FASTag) has been rolled out, based on the recommendations of a committee constituted under Nandan Nilekani.
Further, reports suggest that NHAI is equipping toll points with electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) machines as toll collection resumed from December 2, 2016. As of November 23, 2016, 347 fee plazas out of 366 on National Highways across the country have been integrated and made operational for EFC transaction.
Motorists happy for a change
The exemption of toll had given motorists a reason for cheer. Before payment of toll was waived off, toll plazas had witnessed chaotic conditions as drivers ran short of cash or change for Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Though they had been instructed to accept currency of all notes, there was utter confusion at many places with long queues of vehicles witnessed within city toll-roads and on highways.
Moreover, many motorists were seen wanting to pay the toll with the new Rs 2,000 note in a bid to exchange them for currency notes of lower denomination. Many toll booths complained that commuters were handing over old and demonetized Rs 1,000 notes but would not accept Rs 500 notes as change.