The threat of disruption to supply of petroleum products in the State was averted on Tuesday when the tanker operators deferred their plan to go on an indefinite strike from February 21 over the issue of VAT payment.

This followed talks between Civil Supplies Minister D. Sridhar Babu with representatives of Andhra Pradesh Petroleum Dealers-cum Tanker-Trucks Welfare Committee and officials of HPCL, BPCL, Indian Oil Corporation here on Tuesday.

At the end of the talks, the Minister and Y.V. Eswar Rao, president of the committee, announced that a tripartite understanding was reached to the effect that the oil companies would postpone the tenders they had called to engage the operators to transport their goods and bear VAT levied and collected on these items by the State government.

Minister’s offer

On his part, the Minister offered to resolve the issue relating to the proposal by the oil companies under the tenders to make VAT payment mandatory for operators. The oil companies’ representatives announced their decision to postpone the tenders after consulting senior officials in Delhi.

The Minister, in turn, offered to ensure suitable compensation to the operators if they were made to pay VAT.

The committee leaders, however, rejected the Minister’s offer outright and stuck to their guns.

They said it was the oil companies which would have to pay VAT as was the practice and this burden could not be shifted to truck operators.