The central government may initiate steps to persuade affluent sections of the society to give up cooking gas subsidy meant for the poor, finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday.
Addressing Urja Sangam on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also appealed to the well-to-do sections of the society to give up cooking gas subsidy. About 2.8 lakh people have already given up the subsidy after petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched a drive recently to persuade the rich to give up the benefit.
“I am with my fingers crossed, hoping that he (Pradhan) succeeds. Waiting for his logical and moral appeal to succeed, perhaps at some time India has to take a decision as to distinguish between those who can afford to pay and those who cannot afford to pay,” he said. Those, who cannot afford to pay must continue to get the benefit of state support, he added.
Fuel subsidy had been the largest contributor to the increase in quantum of the overall subsidies in recent years. From a high of R96,880 crore in FY13, fuel subsidy (borne by the government) will likely decline to R60,270 crore in FY15. It is projected to fall sharply to R30,000 crore in FY16 due to the end of diesel subsidy, sharp decline in crude prices and direct cash subsidy to LPG consumers, plugging leakages.
The government has already covered 80% of about 14 crore LPG consumers in the country, which is expected to result in substantial saving for the government.
“I do hope these pressures on exchequers (come down)…,” he said.