Ahmedabad/Mumbai, February 25: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on Thursday said the Centre and states should talk to each other and look for a “coordinated action” over reducing taxes on diesel and petrol whose prices have risen sharply in the recent weeks.
As the political protests against the mounting fuel prices took different forms, Sitharaman also said the question during an an interaction with students asking if the Centre is mulling reducing cess or other taxes on fuel to give some respite to consumers has put her in “dharm-sankat” (dilemma).
In a unique style of protest against the fuel price hike, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee commuted to and from the state secretariat Nabanna in Kolkata on an electric scooter.
A Congress spokesperson on the other hand conducted a press conference at the AICC headquarters in Delhi sitting on an empty gas cylinder in protest against the LPG price hike, as the opposition party accused the Modi government of being “anti-people”.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate and party secretary (communication) Vineet Punia sat on empty cylinders to register their protest. The mike was also kept on a gas cylinder.
“No hiding the fact that the Centre gets revenue from it(taxes). Same is the case with states. I agree that there should be less burden on the consumers.
“For that, both the Centre and states should talk with each other (for reducing central as well as state taxes on fuel),” Sitharaman said during an interaction with students of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad.
Earlier in the day, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das said there is a need for coordinated action between the Centre and state governments to reduce taxes on petrol and diesel.
There is a need for coordinated action between the Centre and the states because there are inherent taxes levied by both, the Governor said, adding that calibrated reduction of taxes is important.
He, however, said both the Centre and the state governments have their revenue pressures and they are required to spend high sums of money to enable the country and the people to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic stress.
So the revenue requirement and the compulsion of the governments are fully understood. But having said that the impact on inflation also is something, which comes in from the fact that petrol and diesel prices do have an impact on the cost of manufacturing, production , the Governor said at an event organised by Bombay Chamber of Commerce in Mumbai.
But Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Minister Satish Mahana said there is no proposal to reduce tax on petrol and diesel as revenue is needed to ensure betterment of health services and other development works due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Replying to Samajwadi Party (SP) member Narendra Verma during the question hour in the state Assembly, he said, “There is no proposal under consideration to reduce tax on petrol and diesel in view of the resources and financial requirements for improving health facilities and other developmental works keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said petroleum products in the country are getting costlier due since oil-producing nations are increasing crude prices.
“In order to earn more profit in the interest of their countries, crude-supplying countries are increasing the prices of crude,” Pradhan told reporters in Mathura when asked about the rise in the prices of petroleum products in India.
He said crude-supplying countries have been requested to desist from the hike in crude prices as it directly affects consumers.
They have created an artificial increase in the interest of their own country, he added.
“Arbitrarily, you cannot hike the prices as it affects consuming countries,” Pradhan said in reference to oil-producing countries.
Owing to bad weather, the production in the US has also slowed in the past two-three weeks, he added.
The minister said he expects an improvement in the situation in some time.
Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole accused the BJP-led Union government of keeping the fuel prices high despite low rates of crude oil in the international market.
Talking to reporters in Mumbai, Patole alleged that heavy charges levied by the Centre on fuel in the domestic market have raised the retail prices to three digits for the first time in the country’s history.
“The Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre is a looter and dacoit for keeping the fuel prices high across the country, irrespective of the low rates of crude oil in the international market,” the former Assembly Speaker claimed. (PTI)