Truck driver Rakesh Pratap Singh’s taut face has fewer trench-like lines since India launched a uniform national sales tax, replacing a complex web of myriad levies. He now takes three days, gaining one whole day, to haul his 23-ton, 18-wheeled, yellow DHL truck nearly 1,350 kilometers (840 miles) from Mumbai on the west coast to Chennai in the southeast.
The only thing the 42-year-old appreciates even more than the time saving is the huge relief from nerve-wracking hassles that he had to endure in the past, such as having to stand in queues to take photocopies of documents and join new lines to make payments at each of the dozen entry and exit points at municipal or state boundaries on the route. “Life has become easier for transporters,” says Singh, who is usually on the road from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. “It used to take three to four hours to get past every checkpoint,” he bemoans, remonstrating that most of these outposts had no restaurants in their vicinity where drivers could grab a quick bite after the painstakingly lengthy procedures, which included paying various taxes at different windows, each involving serpentine queues and much paperwork. “Now, you can get through in less than an hour, sometimes in 10 minutes,” he grins.
Vimal Kumar Chaurasia, 25, who also drives a 40-foot DHL container truck, breathed a sigh of relief at the introduction of the Good and Services Tax (GST), which is touted as the biggest tax reform undertaken by India since the country’s independence from British colonial rule in 1947.