Moments after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced slashing central excise duty on fuel and gas to tackle surging inflation, the government through its Ministers has turned on the heat on states to get them to reduce state taxes as well. Expressing gratitude to PM Modi and Ms Sitharaman, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri raised the pitch on “refusal by some states to reduce prices”.
Congress has hit back, saying the reduction is too little to matter and accused the Centre of ‘fooling’ people. “Nation doesn’t need jugglery of figures to dupe the people,” a senior leader said while pointing to figures from 60 days back and also the 2014 rates.
Informing that the price of petrol will come down by Rs 9.5, while diesel will be cheaper by Rs 7 as central excise duty on petrol has been cut by Rs 8 per litre and the same on diesel has been cut by Rs 6 per litre, Mr Puri pointed out that fuel prices in several states remain around Rs 10-15 higher than in BJP ruled states.
“I want to highlight the fact despite this 2nd reduction in Central excise, price of Petrol & Diesel in States like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand & Kerala remain around Rs 10-15 higher than in BJP ruled states,” he tweeted.
I want to highlight the fact despite this 2nd reduction in Central excise, price of Petrol & Diesel in States like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand & Kerala remain around ₹10-15 higher than in BJP ruled states.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 21, 2022
He said the price disparity is due to the refusal of their respective state governments to reduce VAT.
“It is time for these states to wake up & reduce VAT to provide relief to their consumers,” he added.
Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala swiftly responded to the announcement, slamming what he called “jumlas” and demanded the restoration of central excise duty to May 2014 levels of Rs 9.48 per litre on petrol and Rs 3.56 per litre on Diesel.
In May 2014,
Excise Duty on Petrol = Rs 9.48/Litre
On 21st May, 2022,
Excise Duty on Petrol = Rs 27.90/Litre
U reduced it by Rs 8 now.
U increased Excise on Petrol by Rs 18.42/litre and now reduced it by Rs 8/litre.
It is still Rs 19.90 V/S Rs 9.48 during Congress,” he said in one of his several tweets addressing the Finance Minister on the issue.
In May 2014,
Excise Duty on Diesel = ₹3.56/Litre.
On 21st May, 2022,
Excise Duty on Diesel = ₹21.80/Litre.
U reduced it by ₹6 now.
U increased Excise on Diesel by ₹18.24/litre and now reduced it by ₹6/litre.
It is still ₹15.80 V/S ₹3.56 during Congress. https://t.co/GELhyUWFAC
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) May 21, 2022
The Finance Minister, while announcing the big move, had also exhorted states to implement a similar cut and pass on the benefit to the common man.
“I wish to exhort all state governments, especially the states where reduction wasn’t done during the last round (November 2021), to also implement a similar cut and give relief to the common man,” appealed Ms Sitharaman.